Invites are currently being sent out for the third installment of the FORM Arcosanti festival, curated by the creative and forward-thinking experimental pop group Hundred Waters. FORM takes place at the urban laboratory known as Arcosanti located in Mayer, Arizona. Before getting into the details of the event, the venue itself is a wonder to explore and undeniably worth a Google search. Arcosanti is a surreal mini-city founded by architect, urban designer, artist, craftsman and philosopher, Paolo Soleri. Soleri, disciple to famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, created this experimental city to serve as an antithesis to urban sprawl.
While many festivals aspire to stand out from the rest, the majority of festivals seem to end up turning out the same. FORM has successfully whipped together the correct ingredients to actually separate itself.
The curators look beyond just the production in developing the creative environment many events seek. The people are a crucial element. The attendees in the event are hand chosen. You can’t just pay your way into this festival, that is unless you’re willing to shell out $1000+ (though arguably worth it) on the few patron spots they have available. To attend the event, you must apply by application.
The questionnaire requires applicants to describe the importance of creativity and collaboration in their lives, and explain what they could contribute to the experience. If you get one of the 1200 invites, the entire event is practically free. Entry to the event is covered and camping in the Arcosanti’s Mind Garden is included. Healthy and affordable food options are provided as well. Just find a way to the grounds.
Due to the scale of the festival, the unique and close-knit environment of FORM is established. While other festivals squeeze thousands of people in a venue to maximize profits, FORM strives to maintain an intimate environment to maximize the experience. So long, crowd-pushing ragers.
Looking closely, FORM resembles a retreat more than a festival. It’s a refuge that focuses on inspiring new projects, new perspective, and new ventures in creativity and collaboration, all between a plethora of creative-types. You’ll find musicians, designers, engineers, speakers rubbing shoulders and putting on various types of showcases.
In his interview with ‘The Fader’, Hundred Waters drummer and FORM curator Zach Tetreault explains, “In the music world, going to concerts and going to music festivals and just events in general that all of your colleagues and peers are at, it’s generally a very shallow environment. The events that are sort of designed to bring us together tend to have a lot of branding, and have a lot of security, and a lot of barriers to really going deeper with each other.”
At FORM, there is no exclusive VIP area or any feelings of privilege, even if you’re one of the musicians. You’re allowed to roam wherever you please and talk to anyone you want. Screw a class system. Everyone is equally immersed in this creative playing field, even the event’s musicians. Attendees can watch a set from a headlining artist one night and be eating brunch with them the morning after. They are just as part of the community as anyone else.
So what is the experience at FORM like? Well, from what we gather, it is completely up to the attendees. You can hike the hills of the desert, drink some beer through the architectural wonders, stargaze off the ledges of the rooftops, watch a performance while dipping in the cliffside pool, take some yoga classes, mess around with different gadgets… At every corner, guests can take part in an endeavor of inspiration. Most of the attendees bring personal projects to implement within the festival.
When all the attendees are creative types from varying disciplines and locales, the opportunities for innovation through collaboration are limitless. Everyone is encouraged to break away and explore the different happenings throughout the grounds and contribute in any way they want. In the evenings however, the scheduled music performances bring everyone together, and the day culminates with feelings of camaraderie under the open roof of Arcosanti’s glorious amphitheater. This year some of the acts include Skrillex, Bonobo, Four Tet, Hundred Waters, and Thundercat. (Peep the full lineup below). Expect some unscheduled artists to pop up and play in some corner of the city just because.
Applications are now closed for 2016. If you didn’t get the chance to apply for this year, be sure to try again next year. It is an opportunity worth experiencing once in your life.
Photos courtesy of the Form website