Famous clubs have offered artists the perfect programme to design fantasy media, 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” peculiarity that they are able to condescend from the ceiling when required, there were collections of cash in the back area, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor to be provided by a naked soldier covered in gold glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new show about world-wide society culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were discontinued 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 delivering the negligible design elements to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a design historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical space- genuinely the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic drugs and parties .”
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