Famous fraternities have offered masters the perfect programme to design fantasy environs, 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 sink from the ceiling where needed, there are still pilings of cash in the back chamber, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked guy covered in gold glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which is available in a new show about world-wide fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasy surrounding to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were plunged 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 accompanied the increase of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you bringing the negligible blueprint ingredients 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 room- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through igniting and sound, psychotropic dopes and people .”
Read more: www.theguardian.com