Famous squads have offered masters the perfect stage to design fantasy environments, says Chris Hall
Caligula throwing a party ,” 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” aspect that would tumble from the ceiling where needed, there were piles of cash in the back chamber, unisex lavatories and stunts like Bianca Jagger riding a mare on the dancefloor led by a naked male covered in gold glitter.
The key thing about Studio 54, which features in a new exhibit about world-wide sorority culture at Vitra Design Museum, was its adaptability. It could become a different fantasize environment to act as backdrop for the outrageous attires and theatre of the working party goers- such as when four tonnes of glitter were drooped 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 recognized the rise of the idea that you don’t design a nightclub, you drawing the minimal motif points 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 seat- truly the nightclub is just a container. Clubs are made through illuminating and sound, psychotropic medicines and beings .”
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