Riot Studio, Naples
In a vulnerable and uncertain present, one possible way to regenerate our belief and enthusiasm is to recall remarkable places, people end circumstances which activate constructive energies through creative means. I want to share the significant example of a very special place in the heart of Naples, the Riot studio. It is located in a historical Renaissance-style palace, in a place which has been committed, for years, to underground culture and socio-political engagement.
Riot studio arises, in 2010, from an imaginative dream and a refined vision: Francesca Nicolais, PhD, professor, expert in design and communication and Guido Acampa, filmmaker, together with other open-minded collaborators, conceived a place where to feed creativity on refreshing thoughts, actions and dialogues.
Riot studio hosts the video communication and production studio Pej’s Kitchen and is also a coworking, where both independent and cooperative work overlay. It is dedicated to design, communication, art, music, cinema, new media and its main goal is to realize an analogical net of contacts and collaborations.
The space itself has something magic. From a narrow and crowded alley of the city center, you suddenly enter in a historical palace and a big court shows up, infused with a sense of timeless beauty. You have to climb a series of sculptural, ancient stairs and find yourself in an intimate garden: you arrived at Riot studio.
The founders conceived it as a “studio”, because, as they say, “The term studio refers to a private sphere, a place primarily conceived for work, a small breeding ground of ideas and authentic creative craftsmanship in its varied forms. At the same time the studio offers itself to the city through a constant production of activities, exhibitions, performances, talks and all kind of events people can enjoy and get inspired.”
Riot studio is highly committed to trigger the cultural activism and to keep it alive in a city full of creative energy but still not enough trained and encouraged to make a system out of it. Thanks to the network, which is supported by different funding institutions, everyone can get an annual membership for an affordable price and enjoy a program of high-quality events curated and organized by Riot studio in collaboration with international and unconventional artists, thinkers, designers, musicians and performers. This is an effective way to spread beauty and innovative thoughts among the community.
One representative word of the studio is “experimenting”. In fact, both independent and academic professionals find here the ideal place to test and propose innovative and original formats or to imagine site-specific experimental events.
As part of its manifold and engaging essence, Riot studio organizes design and art events, music concert, dance shows and educational activities. For example, just to mention few of them, at the very beginning of its activity, in 2011, it hosted the international design event “Naturally Combined”, by the studio Mischer’Traxler. This choice showed immediately the studio’s vision: to select and present very emergent, relevant and ethical issues. The young Austrian designers Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, declared winners of the "Designers of the Future Award 2011" at the Milan Furniture Fair, presented their sustainable design project curated by Marco Petroni in collaboration with the Plart Foundation. During the period of residence in Naples, the Mischer’Traxler studio activated the Recorder One machine for the first time in Italy: thanks to the solar panels and through a mechanical apparatus, the solar energy is translated, by the machine, into a single object per day. They also involved artists and creatives in a workshop, generating a process of dialogue and cooperation.
During the years they continued to look for very innovative projects and invited remarkable international personalities. Musicians like Chris Corsano, Antonio Raia, Jessica Moss, Cindy Lee, Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Kaki King, OoopopoiooO, Anthony Pateras, Seijiro Murayama and Miguel A. Garcia Duo exhibited in the magical background of Riot studio. All of them operate at the boundaries between music, performance, digital and visual art, avantgard expressions.
The studio is also very active at the educational level, collaborating with National and International scholars to set up exploratory and speculative activities, such as collaborative and experimental workshops. For example, since 2013, Riot studio holds the annual workshop “Napoli Design Charette”, in collaboration with the Department of Architecture of University of Cambridge. English students are called to map urban spaces of the city of Naples and to explore possible design scenario for different metropolitan areas.
Another very interesting activity is the launch of several live radio formats, as the one conducted by the writer, poet and music enthusiast Gabriele Frasca and Stefano Perna, researcher in the field of audiovisual digital media and sound designer. Another example is the live radio talk Mondi possibili, part of the format Who is the designer. and what a designer can do. A video, to have an idea, can be watched at this link.
I also had the opportunity to collaborate with Riot studio. Together with the designers and PhD Francesco dell’Aglio and Chiara Scarpitti, in 2017 we decided to tell and show the work and experience of Neapolitan designers. Riot studio was the place which made this happen. We set up an exhibition, Hyle, transdisciplinary dialogues on design, of artifacts and serigraphies realized by ten designers called to investigate and question their activity in relation with the city of Naples.
A project speaking loud about Riot studio, is its involvement in the organization of the event TedXNapoli, since 2012 and for 6 editions. The founder Francesca Nicolais is co-organizer of the event and Riot studio is the team behind the whole organization.
This short overview of the kind of projects carried on by Riot studio makes clear its singular vision, cultural commitment and eclectic nature, all combined with a constant and devoted care for the aesthetic dimension.
This kind of places are a precious source of growth, inspiration and improvement for cities, communities and individuals.