Ugo La Pietra: “Living Means Feeling at Home Everywhere”

Ugo La Pietra, an innovative Italian artist and designer, merges technology and light, crafting immersive spaces and objects that blend industrial design with applied arts, reflecting societal and design synergy.

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Cover Photo: Ugo La Pietra – ph. Lorenzo Barbieri Hermitte

Ugo La Pietra, an artist and designer known for his cross-disciplinary creativity, has navigated through various artistic movements such as sign art, conceptual art, environmental art, artist’s cinema, architecture, and radical design. Growing up in an inspiring Milanese environment, La Pietra started his career as a musician, artist, graphic designer, and set designer, eventually becoming an architect and designer. His work stands as a unique testament to a new, unbalanced system characterized by interdisciplinarity, driving both his life and work, marking an unusual career path and approach.

1. La casa telematica, bedroom, Fiera di Milano, 1983

The Vision of Ugo La Pietra

La Pietra greatly admires Gio Ponti, recognizing the importance of learning from artisanal skills. His research consistently focuses on the boundary between art and craftsmanship, seeking deep synergy and overlaps between the culture of making and project culture. In his work, La Pietra encourages awareness that combines memory, history, and tradition with research and design experimentation, aiming to bridge the gap between industrial design and applied arts.

His skilful use of light in his works is not just an aesthetic element but a means through which the architect communicates and manipulates space. His artistic sensitivity is evident in his ability to blend technology and light in immersive spatial environments, creating unique and engaging atmospheres. For example, La Boutique Altre Cose was a programmed environment instrument where optical, sound, and light effects transformed the operation into an interactive game for visitors.

The Role of Light

In his works, light is more than just aesthetic; it’s a means of spatial communication. His artistic sensitivity shines in installations that play with transparency and refraction. For instance, his Globo Tissurato lamp consists of a sphere, a hemisphere, and a transparent methacrylate cylinder with dot structures, inviting user interactivity and refracting light uniquely.

4. Ugo La Pietra with his lamp Globo Tissurato, 1967

On the other hand, artificial light in La Pietra’s works is not just a technological alternative but an element that can be shaped and manipulated to influence the viewer’s perceptual experience. Using artificial lights of various colours and intensities, he creates environments that transform and adapt, stimulating active participation. A notable example is his ability to create environments that challenge the dichotomy between natural and artificial light, prompting viewers to reflect on their perceptions of space and light. His exhibition “La casa telematica” at the Milan Fair, in collaboration with Gianfranco Bettetini and Aldo Grasso, was a pioneering experiment in integrating electronic memory, artificial light, and domestic space.

5. La casa telematica, toeletta, Fiera di Milano, 1983

La Pietra’s Contribution to Modern Design: A Comprehensive Look

Ugo La Pietra’s works are set in a broader context where light becomes a medium to explore human relationships, society, and culture. It’s distinguished by his ability to fuse art, design and architecture through a profound reflection on society and the relationship between light and the individual.

His works are not only aesthetically fascinating but represent an invitation to explore the complexity of relationships and intentions: in 1977, La Pietra transformed a common road sign pole into a luminous work by adding a circular neon lamp and shaped plexiglass wings, turning the urban element into domestic lamps, also known as the “Arcangeli Metropolitani” (Metropolitan Archangels).

6. Arcangeli Metropolitani, Milano, 1977

La Pietra’s work is a constant exploration of how built space interacts with the surrounding world and human perception, particularly through light.

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