Louche, tanned women and their hirsute-of-chest lovers aren’t the only glamorous beings in this photographic series: it’s the buildings that house them where the real “phwoar” factor lies. At least, that’s what the ICA reckons in its new show Radical Disco: Architecture and Nightlife in Italy, 1965 – 1975.
It’s a beautiful look back at the spaces, rather than the faces that shaped nightlife culture, showcasing the work of architects like Gruppo 9999, Superstudio and UFO. And in a time when nightclubs are rapidly disappearing, and almost never being built for purpose, it seems more pertinent than ever to look at these heroes of Italian design.
The discos in Italy became known as Pipers, named after the Roman 1965 disco designed by Manilo Cavalli, and Francesco and Giancarlo Capolei. The site’s pioneering use of AV and interior design sensibilities saw it house the likes of Pink Floyd, playing against the imagery of artists including Piero Manzoni and Andy Warhol.
As well as archival photographs, the show also features architectural drawings, film, music and articles from the international design press of the time.
“In a period of change and contestation in Italy more generally, these socially orientated, politicised architects saw discos as a new type of space for multidisciplinary experimentation and creative liberation,” says the ICA. “These pioneering spaces united innovations in art, architecture, music, theatre and technology. They represent some of the only built examples of Radical architecture. Yet the phenomenon was short-lived, by the mid-1970s most had closed or been transformed into more commercial spaces.”
Radical Disco: Architecture and Nightlife in Italy, 1965 – 1975 runs until 10 January 2016 at the ICA
About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.