“Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today” at Vitra Design Museum Gallery

March 25, 2018

“Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today” offers the first large-scale examination of the relationship between club culture and design, from past to present. The exhibition presents nightclubs as spaces that merge architecture and interior design with sound, light, fashion, graphics, and visual effects to create a modern Gesamtkunstwerk.

 

Discotheque Flash Back, Borgo San Dalmazzo, ca. 1972. Interior Design: Studio65. © Paolo Mussat Sartor

Discotheque Flash Back, Borgo San Dalmazzo, ca. 1972. Interior Design: Studio65. © Paolo Mussat Sartor

 

The nightclub is one of the most important design spaces in contemporary culture. Since the 1960s, nightclubs have been epicentres of pop culture, distinct spaces of nocturnal leisure providing architects and designers all over the world with opportunities and inspiration. Examples range from Italian clubs of the 1960s created by the protagonists of Radical Design to the legendary Studio 54 where Andy Warhol was a regular, from the Haçienda in Manchester designed by Ben Kelly to more recent concepts by the OMA architecture studio for the Ministry of Sound in London. 


 

Practical Information

“Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today”
March 17  – September 9, 2018
Vitra Design Museum Gallery
Charles-Eames-Straße 2,  Weil am Rhein
Germany

 


The exhibits on display range from films and vintage photographs to posters, flyers, and fashion, but also include contemporary works by photographers and artists such as Mark Leckey, Chen Wei, and Musa N. Nxumalo. A spatial installation with music and light effects takes visitors on a fascinating journey through a world of glamour and subcultures – always in search of the night that never ends.

 

Despacio Sound System, New Century Hall, Manchester International Festival, July 2013. © Rod Lewis

Despacio Sound System, New Century Hall, Manchester International Festival, July 2013. © Rod Lewis

Chen Wei, In the Waves #1, 2013 © Chen Wei / Courtesy of LEO XU PROJECTS, Shanghai

Chen Wei, In the Waves #1, 2013 © Chen Wei / Courtesy of LEO XU PROJECTS, Shanghai

 

»Night Fever« opens with the 1960s, exploring the emergence of nightclubs as spaces for experimentation with interior design, new media, and alternative lifestyles. The Electric Circus (1967) in New York, for example, was designed as a countercultural venue by architect Charles Forberg while renowned graphic designers Chermayeff & Geismar created its distinctive logo and font. Its multidisciplinary approach influenced many clubs in Europe, including Space Electronic (1969) in Florence. Designed by the collective Gruppo 9999, this was one of several nightclubs associated with Italy’s Radical Design avant-garde. The same goes for Piper in Turin (1966), a club designed by Giorgio Ceretti, Pietro Derossi, and Riccardo Rosso as a multifunctional space with a modular interior suitable for concerts, happenings, and experimental theatre as well as dancing. Gruppo UFO’s Bamba Issa (1969), a beach club in Forte dei Marmi, was another highly histrionic venue, its themed interior completely overhauled for every summer of its three years of existence.

 

Interior view of Tresor, Berlin, 1996/97 © Gustav Volker Heuss

Interior view of Tresor, Berlin, 1996/97 © Gustav Volker Heuss

Gruppo UFO, Bamba Issa, Night Shelter for the Beach Rescue Camels, Bamba Issa, 1969. © photo: Carlo Bachi / Courtesy of Gruppo UFO

Gruppo UFO, Bamba Issa, Night Shelter for the Beach Rescue Camels, Bamba Issa, 1969. © photo: Carlo Bachi / Courtesy of Gruppo UFO

 

With the rise of disco in the 1970s, club culture gained a new momentum. Dance music developed into a genre of its own and the dance floor emerged as a stage for individual and collective performance, with fashion designers such as Halston and Stephen Burrows providing the perfect outfits to perform and shine. New York’s Studio 54, founded by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell in 1977 and designed by Scott Bromley and Ron Doud, soon became a celebrity favourite. Only two years later, the movie
»Saturday Night Fever« marked the apex of Disco’s commercialisation, which in turn sparked a backlash with homophobic and racist overtones that peaked at the Disco Demolition Night staged at a baseball stadium in Chicago.

 

Interior view of Haçienda, Manchester Courtesy of Ben Kelly

Interior view of Haçienda, Manchester Courtesy of Ben Kelly

Bureau a, DJ booth inside The Club, Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2016. © Mariana Lopes

Bureau a, DJ booth inside The Club, Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2016. © Mariana Lopes

 

Around the same time, places in New York’s thriving nightlife like the Mudd Club (1978) and Area (1983) offered artists new spaces to merge the club scene and the arts and launched the careers of artists like Keith Haring und Jean-Michel Basquiat. In early 1980s London, meanwhile, clubs like Blitz and Taboo brought forth the New Romantic music and fashion movement, with wild child Vivienne Westwood a frequent guest at Michael and Gerlinde Costiff’s »Kinky Gerlinky« clubnight. But it was in Manchester that architect and designer Ben Kelly created the post-industrial cathedral of rave, The Haçienda (1982), from where Acid House conquered the UK.

 

Walter Van Beirendonck, fashion show of Wild & Lethal Trash (W.&L.T.) collection for Mustang Jeans, Fall / Winter 1995/9 © Dan Lecca / Courtesy of Mustang Jeans

Walter Van Beirendonck, fashion show of Wild & Lethal Trash (W.&L.T.) collection for Mustang Jeans, Fall / Winter 1995/9 © Dan Lecca / Courtesy of Mustang Jeans

Keith Haring in front of his contribution to Art theme © Volker Hinz

Keith Haring in front of his contribution to Art theme © Volker Hinz

 

House and Techno were arguably the last great dance music movements to define a generation of clubs and ravers. They reached Berlin in the early 1990s just after the fall of the wall, when disused and derelict spaces became available for clubs like Tresor (1991); more than a decade later, the notorious Berghain (2004) was established in a former heating plant, demonstrating yet again how a vibrant club scene can flourish in the cracks of the urban fabric, on empty lots and in vacant buildings.

 

Dance floor at Paradise Garage, New York, 1978. © Bill Bernstein / David Hill Gallery, London

Dance floor at Paradise Garage, New York, 1978. © Bill Bernstein / David Hill Gallery, London

Bill Bernstein, dance floor at Xenon, New York, 1979. © Bill Bernstein / David Hill Gallery, London

Bill Bernstein, dance floor at Xenon, New York, 1979. © Bill Bernstein / David Hill Gallery, London

 

Developments have become ever more complex since the early 2000s. On the one hand, club culture is thriving and evolving as it is adopted by global brands and music festivals; on the other, many nightclubs have been pushed out of the city or survive merely as sad historical monuments and modern ruins of a hedonistic past. At the same time, a new generation of architects is addressing the nightclub typology. The architectural firm OMA, founded by Rem Koolhaas, has developed a proposal for a twenty-first-century Ministry of Sound II for London, while Detroit-based designers Akoaki have created a mobile DJ booth called » The Mothership« to promote their hometown’s rich club heritage.

 

Newcastle Stage at Horst Arts & Music Festival, Belgium, 2017. Architects: Assemble. © Jeroen Verrecht

Newcastle Stage at Horst Arts & Music Festival, Belgium, 2017. Architects: Assemble. © Jeroen Verrecht

Akoaki, Mobile DJ Booth, The Mothership Detroit, 2014. © Akoaki

Akoaki, Mobile DJ Booth, The Mothership Detroit, 2014. © Akoaki

OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Isometric Plan Ministry of Sound II, London, 2015. © OMA

OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Isometric Plan Ministry of Sound II, London, 2015. © OMA

 

Based on extensive research and featuring many exhibits never before displayed in a museum, »Night Fever« brings together a wide range of material, from furniture to graphic design, architectural models to art, film and photography to fashion. The exhibition takes visitors through a fascinating nocturnal world that provides a vital contrast to the rules and routines of our everyday life.

 

Nightclub Les Bains Douches, Paris, 1990. Interior Design: Philippe Starck. © Foc Kan

Nightclub Les Bains Douches, Paris, 1990. Interior Design: Philippe Starck. © Foc Kan

 

While the exhibition basically follows a chronological concept, a music and light installation created specially by exhibition designer Konstantin Grcic and lighting designer Matthias Singer offers visitors the opportunity to experience all the many facets of nightclub design, from visual effects to sounds and sensations. A display of record covers, ranging from Peter Saville’s designs for Factory Records to Grace Jones’s album cover »Nightclubbing«, underlines the significant relationship between music and design in club culture. The multidisciplinary exhibition reveals the nightclub as much more than a dance bar or a music venue; it is an immersive environment for intense experiences.

 

An evening at the Space Electronic, Florence, 1971. Interior Design: Gruppo 9999. Photo: Carlo Caldini, © Gruppo 9999

An evening at the Space Electronic, Florence, 1971. Interior Design: Gruppo 9999. Photo: Carlo Caldini, © Gruppo 9999

Palladium, New York, 1985. Architect: Arata Isozaki, mural by Keith Haring. © Timothy Hursley, Garvey|Simon Gallery New York

Palladium, New York, 1985. Architect: Arata Isozaki, mural by Keith Haring. © Timothy Hursley, Garvey|Simon Gallery New York

 

Represented artists, designers and architects (extract): François Dallegret, Gruppo 9999, Halston, Keith Haring, Arata Isozaki, Grace Jones, Ben Kelly, Bernard Khoury, Miu Miu, OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), Peter Saville, Studio65, Roger Tallon, Walter Van Beirendonck, Andy Warhol.

 

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann

Installation view Vitra Design Museum »Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today«, 2018 © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Mark Niedermann


 

News source: Vitra Design Museum
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