Ugo La Pietra is an important reference for my project. Not only to study how he understood the problem of the division between urban and domestic space, but also for the different way in which he has always tried to analyze the reality that is provided to him.
I decided to analyze and select some of his projects in my research.
Soggiorno urbano / Urban living room (1989-2016)
Bringing the living room into the street symbolically and allusively represents the different contents contained in the slogan “Living the city”, which is the theoretical foundation with which La Pietra operates in urban space: the breaking of the public/private space barrier (interior/exterior).
Bringing home furnishings into public spaces is a message from the artist that expresses the necessary re-appropriation of the city. A city that must be experienced by its inhabitants, creating again a place where we can perceive community activity using the objects we feel comfortable within private space. In this case it is the interior that comes out and not the urban that enters as in the project of “design reconversion” but always creating an ideological communication between the two environments.
Attrezzature urbane per la collettività / Urban equipment for the community (1979)
Ugo La Pietra photographed a series of urban objects and equipment in the city of Milan, tools that surround us every day and in every place the constraints, obstacles, separateness, and violence of the city; so he redesigned them, turning their use: from “service” structures for the city to “furniture” structures for the home.
Their analysis and reconversion into domestic objects tried, in an ironic way, to highlight the profound difference between our private space (which we live with comfortable furnishing elements that express our identity) and public space (characterized only by objects and tools that express violence and separateness).
So he compared them to comfortable home furnishings full of affective values and significant qualities.
All this to indicate that the re-appropriation of the urban environment passes through the destruction of the barrier that exists between public and private space.
Riconversione progettuale / Project reconversion (1979-2016)
Some of the sketches we’ve just seen of “collectivity equipment” were later actually made and others, in the following years, were developed.
Among them are “Arcangelo Metropolitano” (a lamp with a metal support recovered from a street pole), or the “Mobile bar” (a cabinet made of signage cones on an iron structure composed with a wood hand-painted), allude to La Pietra’s experiences of analysis and design reconversion of urban equipment.
These projects aspire to a connection between the urban object and its new location in the domestic environment so as to change the public’s perception of those objects that often have a negative and legislative entity on the street.
Interno-Esterno / Inside-Outside (1977)
Ugo La Pietra has loaded the architectural object with formal elements of cultured (postmodern) memory, bringing domestic elements from the inside to the outside, on the façade. The operation alludes to overcoming the private/public barrier, a theme that is also tackled by proposing an architecture capable of “communicating”.
“Living, and not simply using, the city, means being able to expand the personality of those who live there, to connote and give identity to the place, to possess it mentally but sometimes also physically”. (Ugo La Pietra)
For years La Pietra has been dwelling and insisting on the possibility of extending its own identity, which one is able to pursue through objects for domestic use, even outside the residential perimeter, virtuously conditioning the external environment. The redefinition of the threshold between private and public, making the external space its own place, making this social artifact familiar to the body, mind and heart are the assumptions on which a significant portion of La Pietra’s research has long concentrated.
Il sistema disequilibrante / The unbalancing system (1970)
This particular object can be considered as the emblematic tool of all research work on the urban environment. Many times, through its use, La Pietra was able to see things that were not immediately readable, many times it made other people use it. An instrument not only of knowledge but also of understanding and proposal, created at a time when the so-called “radical design” was building evasive and utopian objects.
“The refusal to operate in the logic of the system and therefore the identification of aesthetic operations capable of decoding, provoking, giving the possibility to break the pre-established schemes”. (Ugo la Pietra, Argomenti per un dizionario del design)
With this simple tool La Pietra expresses how there is a need to look at the urbanized world from other points of view. We need to look for what is not obvious and to do so we need to change the perspective, angle, and the media with which we look around us.
It is not a point of connection between inside and outside in this case but builds a tool that allows the understanding of the surrounding environment in a different way.