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Creating the’ decadent twilight nature’ of nightclubs

Famous guilds have offered masters the perfect platform to design fantasy environments, 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 they are able to descend from the ceiling where needed, there are still collections of cash in the back chamber, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked humankind covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a new exhibit about world-wide golf-club culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction context to act as backdrop for the outrageous attires and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were lowered 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 ensure the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you fetching the minimal blueprint elements to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a pattern historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical seat- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic medicines and parties .”

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

A new stage set would inspire a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have dished as openings for freedom of expression and safe seats because they’re secreted ,” says Rossi.” They’re concealed 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 alternatives. The team had a door policy where simply celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 minutes of fame. This was a surreal, decadent, autumn nature and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the team burnishing their epitome and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating money of designing detail to go with the photographs and examples- interior furnishings, illuminating, book pattern, mode, and the graphics of flyers and signs. One of the exhibition chambers will be given to a resound and lighting installing, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibit about nightclubs ,” illustrates Rossi,” then elements like flavour and ordeal are key parts of the design of the spaces and how that designing is expended or experienced .”

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

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York clubs, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a inventive platform to masters. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and invitations, organized exhibitions and installings, and coated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, covering Grace Jones with his signature kinetic portrays for a live execution at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another legendary organization that features 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 metropolitans ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of infinites from warehouses to mills .” 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 speech of factory interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of towers moving through the space, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were sucking and dancing. I put stripes normally used as hazard distinguishes 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 promoted dance flooring, so I expended roadside bollards and adjust cat’s sees into the concrete storey. The industrial speech progressed through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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