These Snaking Lights Soften a Derelict Italian Piazza

Objects of Common Interest enlarge their popular Tube Lights to cast hope and whimsy within an Italian piazza burdened with a turbulent political history.

“Lights On” by Objects of Common Interest

Leonidas Trampoukis and Eleni Petaloti, the work-and-life partners behind Objects of Common Interest, are masters of translating complex thoughts and emotions into simple forms. They’re also bona fide history buffs, recently publishing a volume about the midcentury spell that Greece cast over Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi. It’s fitting that the Greek duo’s latest project—a monumental lighting installation that snakes through an abandoned 1930s piazza outside Casa della Libertà in Bergamo, one of the co-hosting cities of this year’s Italian Capital of Culture—deftly combines the two principles. 

The building wields a turbulent past—it once housed Italy’s National Fascist Party, but now sits abandoned. “We asked ourselves,” the duo recalls, “how do you bring life back into a space that has been forgotten for so long, and represents fragments of such a complicated history?” So they decided to enlarge their Tube Lights, a series of cylindrical fixtures that cast a gentle glow from within and appear to emerge and recede into the floor and walls. In Bergamo, its cylindrical modules loop around the building’s stone columns and zoom overhead, softening the otherwise brusque architecture. 

The installation is modular and can be configured differently in another location—part of the duo’s focus on reactivating materials they already possess. For now, we recommend perching on a series of colorful gummy-like resin blocks they placed on a nearby fountain to enjoy the lustrous nighttime view. (Ditto for marble offcuts sourced from local quarries.) “For centuries, light has been a medium that brings people together in a fundamental way,” the duo says. “Passersby are drawn in and invited to watch the light sculpture transform as the sun goes down, illuminating the plaza within its glow.” A brighter future is on the horizon. 

(All photography by FTfoto.)

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