Famous squads have offered artists the perfect platform 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” feature that would descend from the ceiling where necessary, there were mounds of cash in the back area, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a horse on the dancefloor conducted in accordance with a naked humanity covered in gold glitter.
The key event about Studio 54, which is available in a brand-new expo about world golf-club culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy environ to act as backdrop for the scandalous dress and theatre of the working 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 pictured the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you drawing the negligible design parts 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 infinite- truly the nightclub is just a receptacle. Clubs are made through lighting and sound, psychotropic medications and people .”
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