FORM IS AN INTIMATE FESTIVAL AND CREATIVE RETREAT HELD IN THE 1970S DESERT ECO-CITY OF ARCOSANTI, ARIZONA. AN HOUR DRIVE FROM PHOENIX AND SEVEN HOURS FROM LOS ANGELES, THE FESTIVAL IS IMMERSED IN OTHERWORLDLY ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPES WHERE PARTICIPANTS EXPERIENCE 3 DAYS & NIGHTS OF LIVE MUSIC, TALKS, WORKSHOPS, EXPERIENTIAL ART, OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES AND MORE. DISCOVER MORE ABOUT OUR EXCLUSIVE EXPERIENCE!
Arriving to Arcosanti after days in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Phoenix it’s a pure blast. This town is the antithesis of the huge city of Phoenix and other sprawling desert metropolises. Dreamy architecture inspired by the landscape – it’s largely built into a canyon – springs up almost out of nowhere as visitors follow a dirt road from Interstate 17.
Arcosanti, home of Form festival, was founded by visionary Italian architect Paolo Soleri in 1970 and was designed to test theories about the intersection of architecture and ecology, a philosophy Soleri called “arcology.” Soleri came to America as an apprentice at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s workshop in nearby Scottsdale. The headstrong Italian cut his apprenticeship short, but Soleri never left the desert. There he decided to realize his theories about how urban life could be, shaping a “city in the image of man.” Soleri acquired 260 acres of land in Yavapai County in 1970. He saw Arcosanti as an answer to the anathema of modern urban life, what he called in one of his numerous books – the “inherently wasteful consumption of land, energy, and time tending to isolate people from each other and community.”
Casual means functional here. It’s a strange metaphor to describe the place that surrounds Arcosanti, because we are in the middle of the Sonoran desert – almost the middle of nowhere. And only an Italian could have brought cypress and olive groves in the desert. Sometimes you feel in a Tuscan corner facing the Grand Canyon. The landscape is just stunning: a set of daring, elegant concrete structures — including an amphitheater and an apse — sprouting out of the Arizona desert.
FORM was created by the band Hundred Waters after visiting the experimental eco-city of Arcosanti while touring in 2013 (the band moved from Florida to Los Angeles). They believed a leaner alternative could inspire greater connection and creativity amongst artists and friends. You’ll find the band on the lineup each year, and their curation helps make FORM special in terms of music selection. The crowd attending the festival this year (around 1.500 persons) was small and socially engaged. It felt more like a private gathering — an outsize house party — than like a proper festival. That was partly because of the unique setting of Arcosanti as an experimental community. There were hardly any real V.I.P. sections, and musicians who performed were often spotted in the audience, watching others. You could also see most of the musicians playing the amphitheater casually sound-checking earlier in the day — no walls between preparation and performance. Camping in the desert was tough with the wind that was a relief during the day to the harsh desert sun, but at times got to be a little much, and started flipping tents over and getting dirt in people’s eyes.
Performances of this edition included Charli XCX, Beach House, Courtney Barnett, Fleet Foxes, Blood Orange, Dirty Projectors, Bombino, Mount Kimbie, Zola Jesus, Knox Fortune, Grouper, Jay Som, Julie Byrne, Empress Of, Caroline Polachek, Mitski, Sophie, Sudan Archives, plus Sigur Rós’ Jónsi and collaborators Alex Somers and Paul Corley hosted a liminal soundbath, an intense performance that got the entire festival community held for more than one hour in total ecstasy.
Today Arcosanti is less than five per cent complete. It is still under construction, it is already marked by time, but looks like a city of the future: remains a concretely optimistic vision of tomorrow, which attempts to show new generations that an alternative is possible. Also in music with FORM.
Special thanks to Trevor De Brauw, Impossible Burgers and Vans.
Photos by E. Virago, Giulia Galvanin and Claudio Fagnani, great travel companions for this adventure.
Discover Form https://experienceform.com at Arcosanti located in 13555 S. Cross L Road, Mayer, Arizona USA www.arcosanti.org