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Establishing the’ decadent autumn world’ of nightclubs

Famous clubs have offered masters the perfect pulpit to design fantasy surroundings, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing “states parties ” ,” 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” feature that they are able to sink from the ceiling when required, there were pilings of cash in the back area, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor led by a naked soldier covered in gold glitter.

The key happening about Studio 54, which features in a brand-new show about world-wide golf-club culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy environment to act as backdrop for the preposterous clothings and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were stopped 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 learnt the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you delivering the minimal designing 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 made through igniting and sound, psychotropic drugs and beings .”

A neighbourhood to disintegrate: Manchester’s post-industrial Hacienda with hazard-marking stripes on the lines. Photograph: Courtesy of Ben Kelly

A new stage set would stimulate a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have acted as openings for freedom of expression and safe cavities because they’re disguised ,” says Rossi.” They’re hide from daytime standards and premises about behaviour and identity. At night we can try out different identities .”

Playing with personas was something Andy Warhol was drawn to at Studio 54, where he would document this emerging culture with its transformative alternatives. The golf-club had a door policy where only celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those striving their 15 instants of prestige. This was a surreal, decadent, sunset world-wide and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the association burnishing their persona and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating affluence of layout detail to go with the photographs and simulations- interior furnishings, illuminating, book designing, way, and the graphics of flyers and posters. One of the exhibition chambers will be devoted to a chime and igniting facility, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibit about nightclubs ,” explains Rossi,” then elements like sky and know are key parts of the design of the rooms and how that design is consumed or known .”

Staying cool: the Philippe Starck-designed Les Bains Douches in Paris. Photograph: Foc Kan

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York societies, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a imaginative programme to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and biddings, ordered exhibitions and installings, and painted a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, coating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic makes for a live rendition at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famed squad that boasts heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have progressed in line with the changing nature of our cities ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of seats from warehouses to factories .” Whereas Studio 54 was about exclusivity and decadence, the Hacienda was about inclusivity and a different kind of escapism. In short, it was the difference between cocaine and ecstasy.

Ben Kelly, who designed the Hacienda, says that it seemed logical to him to use the visual communication of plant interiors given that it was a former boat showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of pillars operating through the infinite, which unavoidably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I applied stripes normally used as hazard brands in the workplace on the editorials in the nightclub, and yellow-and-black stripes on to the riser of the stage. There was another safety issue getting on and off the invoked dance flooring, so I use roadside bollards and give cat’s seeings into the concrete flooring. The industrial language derived through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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