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Developing the’ decadent sunset nature’ of nightclubs

Famous societies have offered masters the perfect programme 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” feature that they are able to condescend from the ceiling when required, there were slews of cash in the back room, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor led by a naked male covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new exhibition about global club culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasize home to act as backdrop for the outrageous costumes and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were declined 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 accompanied the rise of the idea that you don’t intend a nightclub, you introducing the minimal design elements to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a layout 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 illuminating and sound, psychotropic doses 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 provided as spaces for freedom of expression and safe spaces because they’re buried ,” says Rossi.” They’re conceal from daytime norms and suppositions about behaviour and identity. At night 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 possibles. The team had a door policy where only celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 minutes of prestige. 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 sorority burnishing their persona and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating capital of pattern detail to go with the photographs and frameworks- interior furnishings, lighting, album designing, way, and the graphics of flyers and signs. One of the exhibition rooms will be devoted to a audio and illuminating station, without quite being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibit about nightclubs ,” justifies Rossi,” then elements like flavor and event are key parts of the design of the cavities and how that motif is devoured or experienced .”

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 inventive platform to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and biddings, arranged exhibits and installations, and covered a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, painting Grace Jones with his signature kinetic derives for a live concert at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another legendary society that peculiarity heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have advanced 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 cavities from warehouses to plants .” 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 language of mill interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of articles passing through the space, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were drinking and dancing. I placed stripes normally used as hazard commemorates 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 elevated dance flooring, so I exploited roadside bollards and mount cat’s attentions into the concrete flooring. The industrial expression progressed through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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