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Composing the’ decadent sunset macrocosm’ of nightclubs

Famous organizations have offered artists the perfect platform to design fantasy environments, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing a party ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the famous Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snort” Man and the Spoon” aspect that would condescend from the ceiling where needed, there are still mounds of cash in the back chamber, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor led by a naked serviceman covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new show about world-wide squad culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasize environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were descended from the club’s ceiling on New Year’s Eve or when the fashion designer Valentino had a circus-themed birthday party with sand and mermaids on trapezes.

” The 60 s and 70 s construed the rise of the idea that you don’t designing a nightclub, you fetching the negligible blueprint elements to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a designing historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical opening- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic narcotics and beings .”

A situate to gate-crash: Manchester’s post-industrial Hacienda with hazard-marking stripes on the pillars. Photograph: Courtesy of Ben Kelly

A new stage set would induce a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have dished as infinites for freedom of expression and safe rooms because they’re masked ,” says Rossi.” They’re conceal from daytime standards and beliefs about behaviour and identity. At night we can try out different identities .”

Playing with personas was something Andy Warhol was drawn to at Studio 54, where he would document this emerging culture with its transformative alternatives. The squad had a door policy where simply celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 instants of glory. This was a surreal, decadent, twilight nature and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the team burnishing their image and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating opulence of design detail to go with the photographs and frameworks- interior furnishings, lighting, album design, style, and the graphics of flyers and signs. One of the exhibition rooms will be given to a resound and lighting installing, without quite being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” excuses Rossi,” then elements like flavour and experience are key parts of the design of the infinites and how that blueprint is expended or knowledge .”

Staying cool: the Philippe Starck-designed Les Bains Douches in Paris. Photograph: Foc Kan

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York clubs, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a creative stage to creators. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and invitations, set exhibits and facilities, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, coating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic traces for a live accomplishment at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famed guild that boasts heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have derived in line with the changing nature of our municipalities ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of openings from warehouses to factories .” Whereas Studio 54 was about exclusivity and debasement, the Hacienda was about inclusivity and a different kind of escapism. In short, it was the difference between cocaine and ecstasy.

Ben Kelly, who designed the Hacienda, says that it seemed logical to him to use the visual language of mill interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of columns loping through the cavity, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I applied stripes normally used as hazard commemorates in the workplace on the articles in the nightclub, and yellow-and-black stripes on to the riser of the stage. There was another safety issue getting on and off the heightened dance floor, so I applied roadside bollards and prepare cat’s eyes into the concrete storey. The industrial speech progressed through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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