Le Roi Music Hall: Mollino’s kaleidoscopic dream

In the suburbs of Turin, at n. 8 via Stradella, a little door underneath an arabesque sign draws the passers-by’s attention: Music Hall, Le Roi. Beyond the entrance door aged by the patina of time, it opens up an eccentric fantasia, a kaleidoscopic dream born to the genius of Carlo Mollino, among the most charismatic and unconventional figures of the 20th century.


Turinese, outlandish architect and eclectic designer, expert in photography and passionate about spiritism, fearless mountain climber, racing car driver and aerobatic aviator, Mollino imagines a fairy-tale forest of mosaic and ceramic for the interior of the café chantant and dancing Le Roi, which the owner Attilio Lutrario commissioned him in 1959. Walked down the narrow corridor, a horror vacui composition of colourful majolica, misleading mirrors and opulent marbles, the dance floor appears. The large double-height room has a balcony with wrought iron railing and sky blue curtains, where to enjoy the dancers’ move, spinning as the rail of lights hanging down the ceiling as coloured stalactites.


In Mollino’s original project the building’s curved lines, irregular but harmonious, are echoed by his specially designed furniture, partly replaced over the years and now become cult objects cherished by collectors. That is the case of the chairs, unique with their upholstery, which frame the dance floor like petals of different colours.


Thanks to Open House Torino – first Turinese edition of the event that opens up buildings to the general public who would not otherwise have access – 12 original seats return to Dancing Le Roi. Thanks to the restoration by Tappezzerie Druetta (artisanal workshop among the protagonists of PHM|Piemonte Handmade 2016) and the careful recovery of the original elements – the adhesive labels of Doro brand (workshop in Cuneo where the chairs where made), the wooden armrests, the brass bolts, the paddings’ shape – the chairs are back to their former splendour. On the 10th and 11th June the public will admire the creative gesture of Mollino as a whole, in its intertwining of architecture and design, and impressed by its eccentric and bizarre vision. After all, “everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic”.