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Developing the’ decadent autumn world’ of nightclubs

Famous organizations have offered masters the perfect pulpit 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” boast that would descend from the ceiling when required, there were batches of cash in the back chamber, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a horse on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked husband covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new expo about world squad culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous attires and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were plummeted 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 heard the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you accompanying the minimal design points to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a intend historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical room- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic doses and parties .”

A place to disintegrate: Manchester’s post-industrial Hacienda with hazard-marking stripes on the columns. Photograph: Courtesy of Ben Kelly

A new stage set would invigorate a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have dished as openings for freedom of expression and safe openings because they’re buried ,” says Rossi.” They’re conceal from daytime norms and assumptions about behaviour and identity. At darknes 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 potentials. The golf-club had a door policy where merely celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 times of popularity. This was a surreal, decadent, autumn world-wide and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the guild burnishing their epitome and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating opulence of layout detail to go with the photographs and patterns- interior furnishings, igniting, book blueprint, manner, and the graphics of flyers and posters. One of the exhibition areas will be given to a announce and igniting facility, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” clarifies Rossi,” then elements like atmosphere and experience are key parts of the design of the cavities and how that layout is exhausted or suffered .”

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

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York associations, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a imaginative programme to masters. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and biddings, organized exhibitions and installings, and coated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, painting Grace Jones with his signature kinetic sucks for a live performance at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another legendary club that boasts heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have evolved 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 spaces from warehouses to mills .” 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 boat showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of lines flowing through the cavity, which unavoidably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I set stripes normally used as hazard markings in the workplace on the columns 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 grown dance floor, so I used roadside bollards and set cat’s attentions into the concrete flooring. The industrial expression progressed through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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