The exhibition “Night Fever – design and club culture (1960 – today)” will be on display for public viewing from 17th March to 9th of September at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Switzerland.
It is the first all-embracing exhibition touching on the design and cultural history of the nightclub, which catches the eyes of the viewers with numerous club examples of history, regarded as exuberant synthesis of the arts. Besides furniture, models and fashion, they will also be hosting film documents, graphic design and contemporary compositions by artists and photographers such as Marc Leckey, Chen Wei or Musa N. Nxumalo. In addition to the chronological structure of the exhibition, the installations by lighting designer Matthias Singer and the designer Konstantin Grcic usher the fascinating journey through sub-cultures and glittering worlds, which speaks of a vibrant and ever evolving club culture. The bewitching interaction of music and light allows visitors to effortlessly immerse themselves in the eventful history of club culture in a New York minute. Furthermore, the music samples, such as a select collection of album covers including Peter Savilles Designs for Factory Records and Grace Jones’ programmatic album cover “Nightclubbing” highlight the important relationships between music and design in club culture from 1960 to the present.
Clubs from 1960 to today
In the 1960s, nightclubs and discotheques became evident epicentres of pop culture. They were considered the meeting place of the avantgarde. At the happy “get-together” of the nocturnal scene, the social norms were questioned in a different way than today. They were more than just a place, they were a space for profound and multimediumistic experiences. The clubs opened up new avenues in the field of interior design. The blends of interior design, furniture design, lighting, music and even fashion were fluid and, above all, open to alternative lifestyles.
The culture of music is known to everyone in the name of music festivals around the globe, which is also picked up by global brands and used for marketing. The pioneering spirit is gone with the wind and many prestigious nightclubs from the past have long been history. It is all the more pleasing that meanwhile a generation of architects is growing up, which again deals with the nightclub as a typology.
A disco movement in the Saturday Night Fever
The club culture experienced an enormous boost in development with the rise of the disco movement in the 1970s. The disco music was recognised as a separate genre altogether, while the dancefloor provided a stage for collective and individual performances. Fashion designers like Stephen Burrows and Halston created the right outfits for a glamorous appearance. In the late 1970s, the then box office hit “Saturday Night Fever” represented the culmination of the commercialisation of the disco movement. At the same time, clubs like the “Mudd Club” (1978) or “Area” (1978) in New York offered the emerging young artists new opportunities with their endeavour of fusing nightlife and entertainment art. This is around the time when the careers of Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat took off. Alongside a new style of music and fashion style developed in the London clubs such as “Blitz” and “Taboo” with the New Romantics.
Clubs in Radical Design
New York‘s subculture places like “Electric Circus” (1967), courtesy Charles Forberg, Chermayeff & Geismar, find a worthy mention in “Nightfever” exhibition. Charles Forberg, for example, with his multidisciplinary character also influenced clubs in Europe, which were created in cooperation with architects of the Italian Radical Design. In 1966, Giorgio Ceretti, Pietro Derossi and Riccardo conceived the “Club Piper” in Turin, whose modular furniture was not only suitable for dancing but also for concerts and experimental theatre. Resembling the Forte dei Marmi beach club in Tuscany, designed by the UFO group, which was thematically redesigned every summer.
Legendary clubs in the metropolitan cities of New York and London
The most well known examples that have their own place in the exhibition are the legendary “Studio 54” in New York and the “Ministry of Sound” in London. In 1977, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell opened Studio 54. Architect Scott Bromley and Interior Designer Ron Doud transformed the location into a popular meeting place. For a long time, “Studio 54” was one of the most famous nightclubs in the world, with stars like Andy Warhol, Liza Minelli, Diana Ross, John Travolta and many more regulars. The tickets was quoted with “dress spectacular”; and the doors would not open for everyone. Either you were already famous or you knew how to behave to get past the door. The trendy club closed its doors for the first time in 1980 and then finally in 1986.
Ministry of Sound
This one isn’t anything like the club “Ministry of Sound” in London, which was founded by Jamie Palumbo and continues to exist today. The Dutch architects OMA were in charge of its design under the aegis of Rem Koolhaas. In the early 1990s, the club was crucial to the development of house music in the UK. The genres House and Techno were originally created in the clubs of Chicago and Detroit. They can be described as the last two major movements of dance music that shaped a whole generation of clubs and ravers.
If you find yourself craving for more architecture, especially from nightclubs, we recommend you to visit our category Architecture & public space. Here you will also come across the Omni Nightclub Taipei, which received the laudable award – Red Dot: Best of the Best at the Red Dot Design Award in 2017 .
Posted on 13.02.2018