Famous guilds have offered artists the perfect platform to design fantasy surroundings, 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” aspect that would condescend from the ceiling where necessary, “therere” slews of cash in the back room, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor led by a naked soul covered in gold glitter.
The key stuff about Studio 54, which features in a new exhibition about global organization culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction home to act as backdrop for the scandalous outfits and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were plummeted 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 drawing the minimal pattern components 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- genuinely the nightclub is just a receptacle. Clubs are made through igniting and sound, psychotropic pharmaceuticals and beings .”
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