Famous teams have offered artists the perfect pulpit to design fantasy contexts, says Chris Hall
Caligula throwing a party ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the legendary Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snorting” Man and the Spoon” aspect that would descend from the ceiling when required, there were batches of cash in the back room, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor conducted in accordance with a naked person covered in gold glitter.
The key act about Studio 54, which is available in a brand-new show about world society culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy situation to act as backdrop for the appalling garbs and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were sagged 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 watched the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you making the negligible pattern 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 opening- genuinely the nightclub is just a receptacle. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic drugs and people .”
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