Previously at the ICA - Events

Interior of Piper, Turin, designed by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, 1966. © Pietro Derossi

Designer Discos

16 Dec 2015

In light of the ICA reading room exhibition Radical Disco: Architecture and Nightlife in Italy, 1965 – 1975, this talk explores the relationship between architecture, design and nightlife. Chaired by Justin McGuirk, speakers include Pietro Derossi, Ben Kelly, Amanda Moss and Catharine Rossi.

Often concealed within with unassuming exteriors that disguise what goes on inside, nightclubs are havens for collective experimentation. Their often theatrical interiors are designed to promote play, performance, disorder and social exchange. Through experiments with lighting, audio and visual technologies and spatial devices, reality is distorted and audiences become cultural participants rather than passive spectators.

This discussion will give focus to a selection of clubs and nightlife projects whose designs have championed countercultural movements and inspired generations of visionary architects. Each of these progressive and experimental spaces from the Radical Italian discos of 1960-1970s, to Manchester’s Hacienda club in the 1980s promote cultural diversity and have helped shaped creative communities. In today’s cultural climate where nightclubs are closing across the UK, this event explores issues including the relationship between clubs and their surroundings, their countercultural and social value, and the future of nightclubs in the UK and elsewhere.

Born in Turin in 1933, Pietro Derossi graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Turin. He is best known for being a member of Gruppo Strum, the Italian radical design group active in Torino, Italy, between 1966 and 1975, taking their name as an abbreviation of archtettura strumentale (functional architecture). With fellow designers Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso he designed both Piper in Turin (1966) and L’Altro Mondo in Rimini (1967). Derossi has held numerous Professorial positons including at the Architectural Association, London; and the Pratt Institute and Columbia University, New York.

Ben Kelly trained in interior design and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1974. He established Ben Kelly Design (BKD) in 1977, and projects range from exhibitions for the V&A, Design Musuem, Crafts Council, Wellcome Trust, British Council, and The Architecture Foundation and Factory Records' The Hacienda in Manchester.. Ben is also a practicing artist and recent solo shows include International Orange: Please Shut the Gate, The Mackintosh Gallery, Glasgow School of Art (2010), and International Orange at The Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston, London (2008).

Justin McGuirk is a writer and curator based in London. He is the chief curator at the Design Museum and the head of Design Curating & Writing at Design Academy Eindhoven. He has been the director of Strelka Press, the design critic of The Guardian, and the editor of Icon magazine. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban Think Tank. His book Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture is published by Verso.

Amanda Moss is a visual artist and co-founder of Corsica Studios, one of London’s most respected independent arts and music venues. After completing a Fine Art degree in painting in 1991 she met Adrian Jones and after running a number of their own collaborative artistic projects and short-term studio spaces they moved to South London and formed Corsica Studios in 2002.

Dr Catharine Rossi is a design historian interested in researching, writing, talking and teaching about design practice both past and present with a wide set of audiences. Her publications include Crafting Design in Italy: From Post-War to Postmodernism (Manchester University Press, 2015) and The Italian Avant-Garde: 1968 - 75 (Sternberg Press, 2013), which was co-edited with Alex Coles. She has worked on exhibitions at the V&A and MoMA and in 2014 she curated Space Electronic: Then and Now at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.  Rossi has contributed to magazines including Crafts, Disegno and Domus.

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