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Generating the’ decadent twilight world’ of nightclubs

Famous sororities have offered masters the perfect pulpit to design fantasy environments, 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 snort” Man and the Spoon” peculiarity that they are able to sink from the ceiling where needed, there are still pilings of cash in the back area, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a pony on the dancefloor is presided over by a naked male covered in gold glitter.

The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a brand-new expo about world-wide squad culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different imagination environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous costumes 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 looked the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you bring the minimal pattern constituents to make a nightclub ,” says Catharine Rossi, a blueprint historian at Kingston University, who has co-curated the exhibition.” What’s important is not the physical space- actually the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through igniting and sound, psychotropic stimulants and parties .”

A lieu to crash: Manchester’s post-industrial Hacienda with hazard-marking stripes on the editorials. 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 openings because they’re buried ,” says Rossi.” They’re concealed from daytime criteria and suppositions about behaviour and identity. At nighttime 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 only celebrities and the beautiful or unconventional were allowed in- those attempting their 15 instants of reputation. This was a surreal, decadent, twilight world and whether it was Truman Capote, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones or Andy Warhol, it was mutually beneficial, the golf-club burnishing their epitome and vice versa.

The exhibition will be crammed with a fascinating money of design detail to go with the photographs and prototypes- interior furnishings, lighting, album layout, manner, and the graphics of flyers and posters. One of the exhibition rooms will be devoted to a chime and illuminating facility, without quite being a mock-up of a nightclub.” If you’re going to do an exhibition about nightclubs ,” excuses Rossi,” then elements like environment and experience are key parts of the design of the spaces and how that design 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 clubs, such as Area, Club 57, the Mudd Club, Paradise Garage and the Palladium, offered a creative pulpit to masters. Nightclubs became galleries. Keith Haring designed flyers and summons, set exhibits and facilities, and coated a huge mural inside the Palladium. His canvas was also the human body, decorating Grace Jones with his signature kinetic sucks for a live rendition at Paradise Garage in New York in 1985.

Another famous golf-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 metropolis ,” says Rossi.” In the 1980 s for example, the post-industrial city led to the opening up of infinites 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 conversation of factory interiors given that it was a former yacht showroom and had an industrial feel.” There was a line of editorials passing through the space, which inevitably would be hazardous where people were sucking and dancing. I applied stripes normally used as hazard commemorates in the workplace on the pillars 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 floor, so I utilized roadside bollards and define cat’s seeings into the concrete storey. The industrial expression derived through practical reasons .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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