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Generating the’ decadent autumn macrocosm’ of nightclubs

Famous squads have offered artists the perfect scaffold to design fantasy contexts, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing “states parties ” ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the famed Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snort” Man and the Spoon” aspect that would descend from the ceiling when required, there were stockpiles of cash in the back area, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked boy covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new exhibition about world-wide organization culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasize medium to act as backdrop for the outrageous dress and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were descent 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 met the increase of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you creating the negligible design parts to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a blueprint historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical seat- genuinely the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic drugs and people .”

Interior
A neighbourhood to 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 provided as infinites for freedom of expression and safe cavities because they’re secreted ,” says Rossi.” They’re obscured from daytime standards and suppositions 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 society had a door policy where only celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those endeavouring their 15 minutes of popularity. This was a surreal, decadent, sunset world-wide and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the squad burnishing their persona and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating fortune of design detail to go with the photographs and representations- interior furnishings, lighting, album pattern, style, and the graphics of flyers and postings. One of the exhibition areas will be given to a racket and lighting station, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” illustrates Rossi,” then elements like environment and experience are key parts of the design of the openings and how that intend is expended or experienced .”

Nightclub
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 imaginative platform to masters. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and summons, organized exhibits and installings, and painted a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, decorating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic gleans for a live execution at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famed golf-club that features heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have progressed in line with the changing nature of our metropolitans ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of infinites from warehouses to mills .” Whereas Studio 54 was about exclusivity and decadence, 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 speech of plant interiors given that it was a former boat showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of pillars moving through the room, which unavoidably would be hazardous where people were sucking and dancing. I made stripes normally used as hazard commemorates in the workplace on the lines 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 invoked dance flooring, so I used roadside bollards and give cat’s gazes into the concrete floor. The industrial usage derived through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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