The beautiful faces and spaces of Italy’s wild and radical late 60s discos

Date
14 December 2015
Reading Time
2 minute read

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

Above

Space Electronic during the Mondial Festival, co-organised by Gruppo 9999 and Superstudio, Space Electronic, Florence, 1971. © Gruppo 9999, courtesy of Carlo Caldini.

Above

Gruppo 9999, prototype for the Vegetable Garden House at the Mondial Festival, Space Electronic, Florence, 1971. © Gruppo 9999, courtesy of Carlo Caldini.

Above

UFO, amphibious camels returning to Africa, Bamba Issa, Forte dei Marmi, 1969. Photograph by Carlo Bachi, © Lapo Binazzi, UFO Archive.

Above

3C+t Capolei Cavalli (Giancarlo Capolei, Pinini Capolei, Manlio Cavalli), interior of the Piper club, with stage mural by Claudio Cintoli, Rome, 1965. © Pino Abbrescia e Fabio Santinelli (face2face studio)

Above

Interior of La Fine del Mondo, designed by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, Turin, 1966. ©Pietro Derossi

Above

The stage and audio-visual system inside La Fine del Mondo, designed by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, Turin, 1966. © Pietro Derossi

Above

Interior of L’Altro Mondo, designed by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, Rimini, 1968. ©Pietro Derossi.

Above

UFO, lovers on a swing chair, Bamba Issa, Forte dei Marmi, 1970. Photograph by Carlo Bachi, © Lapo Binazzi, UFO Archive.

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Emily Gosling

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.

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