Famous organizations 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 snorting” Man and the Spoon” boast that would tumble from the ceiling when required, there used pilings of cash in the back area, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor led by a naked guy contained within gold glitter.
The key occasion about Studio 54, which features in a new show about world association culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy environ to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of sheen were put 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 received the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you accompanied the minimal blueprint ingredients 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 room- actually the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are represented through lighting and sound, psychotropic pharmaceuticals and beings .”
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