Famous associations have offered creators the perfect stage to design fantasy milieu, says Chris Hall
Caligula throwing a party ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the famed Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snorting” Man and the Spoon” aspect that they are able to pitch from the ceiling when required, there were pilings of cash in the back chamber, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor led by a naked mortal covered in gold glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a new show about global fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy situation to act as backdrop for the outrageous outfits and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were dropped 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 read the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you raising the negligible intend elements to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a design historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical room- actually the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through lighting and sound, psychotropic narcotics and people .”
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