Famous societies have offered artists the perfect pulpit to design fantasy environments, says Chris Hall
Caligula throwing a party ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the famous Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snorting” Man and the Spoon” boast that would sink from the ceiling when required, there were heaps of cash in the back chamber, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor led by a naked soul covered in gold glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new exhibit about world sorority culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous attires and theatre of the 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 realized the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you fetching the minimal design elements 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 room- certainly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through lighting and sound, psychotropic drugs and people .”
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