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Forming the’ decadent autumn nature’ of nightclubs

Famous teams have offered artists the perfect programme to design fantasy homes, 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” feature that would condescend from the ceiling when required, there were collections of cash in the back room, unisex bathrooms and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked mortal covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a new expo about world fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasize medium to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter 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 met the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you wreaking the negligible motif constituents to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a motif historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical opening- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through lighting and sound, psychotropic medications and beings .”

Interior
A situate to gate-crash: Manchester’s post-industrial Hacienda with hazard-marking stripes on the pillars. Photograph: Courtesy of Ben Kelly

A brand-new stage set would induce a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have served as infinites for freedom of expression and safe cavities because they’re buried ,” says Rossi.” They’re obscured from daytime norms and assumptions about behaviour and identity. At darknes 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 prospects. The team had a door policy where exclusively celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 hours of fame. This was a surreal, decadent, twilight nature and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the squad burnishing their epitome and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating property of design detail to go with the photographs and patterns- interior furnishings, illuminating, book layout, mode, and the graphics of flyers and postings. One of the exhibition chambers will be given to a voice and lighting station, without quite being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” illustrates Rossi,” then elements like flavour and ordeal are key parts of the design of the seats and how that motif is eaten or suffered .”

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

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York golf-clubs, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a innovative platform to creators. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and requests, formatted exhibits and stations, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, coating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic illustrations for a live rendition at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famed fraternity that boasts heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have derived in line with the changing nature of our municipalities ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of openings from warehouses to factories .” Whereas Studio 54 was about exclusivity and debasement, 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 conversation of plant interiors given that it was a former boat showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of towers leading through the seat, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were sucking and dancing. I introduced stripes normally used as hazard distinguishes in the workplace on the pillars 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 heightened dance floor, so I use roadside bollards and place cat’s sees into the concrete storey. The industrial expression derived through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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