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Causing the’ decadent autumn world’ of nightclubs

Famous clubs 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 snorting” Man and the Spoon” feature that they are able to pitch from the ceiling where needed, there are still heaps of cash in the back chamber, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked human covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a brand-new expo about global fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were ceased 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 ensure the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you accompanying the negligible design points 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 igniting and sound, psychotropic stimulants and people .”

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

A brand-new stage set would induce a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have acted as rooms for freedom of expression and safe cavities because they’re buried ,” says Rossi.” They’re obscured from daytime standards and suppositions about behaviour and identity. At nighttime 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 possibilities. The team had a door policy where only celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those endeavouring their 15 instants of glory. This was a surreal, decadent, twilight world 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 money of design detail to go with the photographs and simulations- interior furnishings, illuminating, book blueprint, fad, and the graphics of flyers and posters. One of the exhibition chambers will be devoted to a reverberate and illuminating facility, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” shows Rossi,” then elements like environment and know-how are key parts of the design of the rooms and how that design is depleted 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 sororities, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a artistic stage to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and requests, formatted exhibitions and installations, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, covering Grace Jones with his signature kinetic drawings for a live rendition at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famous squad that features 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 metropolitans ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of seats 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 communication of plant interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of articles guiding through the room, which unavoidably would be hazardous where people were drinking and dancing. I applied stripes normally used as hazard markers 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 grown dance flooring, so I use roadside bollards and set cat’s seeings into the concrete storey. The industrial conversation progressed through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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