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Forming the’ decadent twilight world’ of nightclubs

Famous golf-clubs have offered masters the perfect pulpit to design fantasy milieu, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing “states parties ” ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the famed Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snort” Man and the Spoon” peculiarity 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 led by a naked soldier covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new exhibition about world-wide fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different imagination environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous outfits and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were dropped 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 ascertained the increase of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you wreaking the negligible pattern elements 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 seat- truly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through lighting and sound, psychotropic medications and parties .”

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

A new stage set would induce a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have helped as rooms for freedom of expression and safe cavities because they’re obscured ,” says Rossi.” They’re hidden 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 prospects. The society had a door policy where simply celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those striving their 15 instants of prominence. This was a surreal, decadent, twilight world-wide and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the team burnishing their portrait and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating affluence of blueprint detail to go with the photographs and simulations- interior furnishings, illuminating, book motif, way, and the graphics of flyers and posters. One of the exhibition chambers will be devoted to a bang and lighting installation, without fairly being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” interprets Rossi,” then elements like environment and experience are key parts of the design of the seats and how that designing is downed or knowledge .”

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

In the 70 s and 80 s, New York guilds, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a innovative pulpit to masters. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and summons, arranged exhibits and stations, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, decorating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic drawings for a live recital 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 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 language of factory interiors given that it was a former boat showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of articles passing through the room, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I threw stripes normally used as hazard markers 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 created dance flooring, so I employed roadside bollards and prepare cat’s seeings into the concrete storey. The industrial expression evolved through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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