The Utopian Festival In The Desert Introducing a Design Icon to a New Generation

Courtesy FORM

On the site of Italian master-planner Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti, top musicians perform in the shadows of an urban planning dream deferred.

In a time when festivals abound, selecting which one to prioritize is trickier than it was even a decade ago. Each week, events that range from far-flung cultural experiences to gastronomical street fairs, mystical meditation, and musical extravaganzas take place worldwide, competing for our attention.

To stand out a festival needs not only to entertain but also inspire.

Such is the case with FORM, a three-day sonic experience in the heart of Arcosanti, Arizona, where top musicians like Skrillex, Chance the Rapper and Solange meet to play for 3,000 + concertgoers who have gathered in the architectural utopia designed by Italian master-planner Paolo Soleri. The location was selected for the same purpose it was initially built; to foster intellectual discussion around urbanism and sociology, an eco-city constructed by over 8,000 students and volunteers who believed physical structures could shape the mind, heart, and even soul.


Courtesy FORM

This communal feel is what Hundred Waters—the LA-based band who first launched FORM in 2014 after a break from touring—have sought to foster each May. “The most important goal is that everyone has an experience where they feel genuinely valued and appreciated,” says Trayer Tryon, bassist, and co-founder. "They are not merely spectators but participants in something joyous and thought-provoking that ideally will translate into greater compassion for others when they return home.”

His words ring true with fellow co-creators Zach Tetreault and Alex Hoffman, who’ve helped bring talent to the concrete-heavy utopia, drawing in creatives such as Doug Aitken and Hannibal Buress. Their milestones are quite impressive; FORM has already hosted artists such as James Blake, Fleet Foxes, Beach House and Blood Orange (to name a few) and continues to be an influential culture draw.


Courtesy FORM

“After touring extensively on our first record, we were looking for a place to do a one-off show that would be free and in some far-off destination,” said Tetreault. While on a road trip across the country from FL to LA, the band stopped at a few destinations, Arcosanti being one of them. “It blew our minds, and we instantly knew it was the place we'd been looking for. So the idea of FORM was born,” he added, discussing a program that includes wellness, artistic and gastronomical happenings, as well as lectures and talks organized with partnering organizations such as Neuehouse, ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Phoenix Art Museum.


Courtesy FORM

This support is an example of the underlying message at FORM; although the festival lacks a specific political agenda, the founders hope to challenge bias and create an idyllic escape for all. “We don't have room for and won't tolerate any form of racism, sexism, bigotry or bullying of any kind. It's meant to be a safe space for everyone, and there are no exceptions to that.” This year, one-hundred percent of the profits will go to SocialWorks, a non-profit run by Chance the Rapper that benefits Chicago public school arts and after-school programs.


Courtesy FORM

He also touts the egalitarian nature of the festival: "There’s no separation between artists or fans at FORM. There are no VIP viewing areas. Performers sit in the crowd with everyone else, and in most cases, the people who come are artists or creatives too."

"Once you arrive, it becomes clear how special this place is." May 11-13; experienceform.com.