To celebrate its 50th birthday this month, lager brand Peroni Nastro Azurro turned a West London townhouse into a restaurant and gallery showcasing Italian art and design. We took a look inside.
Located on London’s Portland Place near the five star Langham Hotel, the House of Peroni is a grand grade II listed terrace. It would be easy to miss among the embassies and company headquarters – if it wasn’t for the bright blue carpet outside stamped with the lager brand’s name in bold white type. But while its entrance is a little garish, the house offers an interesting look at some of Italy’s leading creative talent.
The first room is a psychedelic space decorated with neon shreds of patterned paper (top). It may look like the aftermath of a hallucinogenic fuelled party but the installation, by artist Ludovica Giosca, is a critique of contemporary culture – a visual representation of the need to strip away layers of societal constructs to find something more meaningful. Last week, the room was also filled with a sound installation set up for an evening DJ set: a giant cube made up of two kilometres of UV string which, when touched or pulled, triggered a sound that would feed into a mixing desk to become part of the performance.
Giosca’s installation leads to an infinity room designed by artist Carlo Bernardini (above), filled with light and reflective paint to create a seemingly endless hazy space. Upstairs, a sleek white architectural sculpture by designer Andrea Morgante (bottom) sits alongside ones made out of resin and animal parts by the Holland-based, Italian born design duo FormaFantasma (below). In each room, visitors can read about the artworks on iPads, and a free glossy magazine includes interviews with and photographs of the creators.
Of course, there are branded touches throughout- Peroni is the only lager on sale and the cocktails and snacks served on the roof terrace restaurant are made using Peroni reductions – but the company has had little input in curating the artwork on show, instead nominating a creative council made up of Morgante, FormaFantasma, Michelin-starred chefs Christian and Manuel Costardi, architect Piero Lissoni, Squire designer Carlo Brandelli and Giovanni Alessi Anghini. (Sadly, there’s little female presence in the House but this could change when it re-opens in November).
“We were given free reign curating the house, and wanted to get deep inside the DNA of Italian design. It’s difficult to sum up a nation’s contemporary arts scene in one building and it’s taken many months to prepare. There was no set criteria, as we were simply looking for artists whose work is inventive and has passion,” says Morgante.
There were no set briefs or restrictions on installations, says Morgante, and the only branded project is a row of artists’ interpretations of Peroni bottles displayed on the first floor (below). Of these, only one of the bottles features the Peroni logo – others are more abstract, with some made from marble, clay, plaster and make up.
Throughout July, the House has also hosted live performances, talks from fashion designers, photographers and illustrators and interactive workshops where guests have experimented with chair making and cocktail mixing. M&C Saatchi, which has been co-ordinating the campaign, says all of the workshops have been fully booked in advance and at least 100 visitors have been attending the house each day. By London standards, that’s not a huge turnout but over a month, it amounts to more than three thousand visitors.
Peroni says its month-long birthday party is a celebration of “superior craftsmanship, attention to detail and game-changing flair – values that lie at the heart of Peroni”. The mid-priced lager isn’t likely to conjure immediate associations with luxury and style but its house is an extravagant venue, and an innovative anniversary campaign.
The House of Peroni closes tomorrow evening, but will re-open in November with a new schedule and artists in residency. For more info, visit thehouseofperoni.com