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Generating the’ decadent sunset macrocosm’ of nightclubs

Famous teams have offered masters the perfect stage to design fantasy environments, says Chris Hall

Caligula throwing “states parties ” ,” was how the funk musician Rick James described the legendary Studio 54 in New York, which opened in 1977. There was a cocaine snort” Man and the Spoon” peculiarity that would descend from the ceiling where needed, there are still slews of cash in the back area, unisex showers and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked man covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a brand-new exhibition about world fraternity culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fiction environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous clothings and theatre of the party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were descent 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 insured the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you making the negligible blueprint constituents to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a layout 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 illuminating and sound, psychotropic medications and parties .”

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

A brand-new stage set would inspire a new persona.” Historically, nightclubs have provided as rooms for freedom of expression and safe seats because they’re concealed ,” says Rossi.” They’re conceal from daytime norms and assumptions 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 possibilities. The association had a door policy where exclusively celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those striving their 15 minutes of honour. This was a surreal, decadent, sunset nature and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the organization burnishing their persona and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating money of design detail to go with the photographs and modelings- interior furnishings, illuminating, book intend, mode, and the graphics of flyers and postings. One of the exhibition chambers will be devoted to a bang and igniting 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 sky and event are key parts of the design of the openings and how that pattern is expended or suffered .”

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 artistic programme to artists. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and invitations, set exhibits and stations, and decorated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, painting Grace Jones with his signature kinetic moves for a live performance at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another legendary club that features heavily in the exhibition is the Hacienda in Manchester, with its innovative post-industrial design.” Nightclubs have evolved in line with the changing nature of our cities ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of seats 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 expression of mill interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of columns operating through the seat, which unavoidably would be hazardous where people were boozing and dancing. I put stripes normally used as hazard commemorates in the workplace on the towers 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 conjured dance flooring, so I utilized roadside bollards and mount cat’s sees into the concrete floor. The industrial language evolved through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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