Famous guilds have offered masters the perfect stage to design fantasy environments, 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 snort” Man and the Spoon” facet that they are able to descend from the ceiling when required, there were pilings of cash in the back room, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor led by a naked man covered in gold glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a brand-new show about world-wide guild culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous garbs and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were fallen 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 recognized the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you bring the minimal designing 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- really the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through lighting and sound, psychotropic dopes and people .”
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