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Causing the’ decadent autumn macrocosm’ of nightclubs

Famous fraternities 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 would descend from the ceiling where needed, there is indeed stockpiles of cash in the back chamber, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked soldier covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a brand-new show about world fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous attires and theatre of the 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 examined the rise of the idea that you don’t pattern a nightclub, you fetching the minimal pattern elements 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 cavity- actually the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through lighting and sound, psychotropic dopes and people .”

A region to disintegrate: 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 acted as rooms for freedom of expression and safe rooms because they’re disguised ,” says Rossi.” They’re concealed from daytime norms and presumptions 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 potentials. The guild had a door policy where merely celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 hours of renown. This was a surreal, decadent, sunset nature and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the team burnishing their image and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating affluence of intend detail to go with the photographs and prototypes- interior furnishings, igniting, book layout, mode, and the graphics of flyers and postings. One of the exhibition areas will be given to a chime and illuminating station, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” explains Rossi,” then elements like feeling and experience are key parts of the design of the cavities and how that layout is expended 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 inventive platform to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and requests, formatted exhibits and stations, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, covering Grace Jones with his signature kinetic pumps for a live act at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another legendary society that boasts 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 cities ,” 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 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 expression of plant interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of editorials guiding through the seat, which unavoidably would be hazardous where people were drinking and dancing. I employed stripes normally used as hazard stigmatizes in the workplace on the editorials 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 parent dance floor, so I expended roadside bollards and prepare cat’s attentions into the concrete storey. The industrial communication derived through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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