Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960–Today

Interior view of Haçienda, Manchester
Courtesy of Ben Kelly

Weil am RheinArt & Culture

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960–Today

Eat Sleep Rave Create: how club culture will forever be intrinsically linked to art, design, architecture, and creativity...

Club culture as we know it today began with the emergence of nightclubs as spaces for experimentation with interior design, new media, and alternative lifestyles throughout the 1960s; from architect Charles Forberg’s NYC counterculture venue The Electric Circus to the decadent Italian clubs it inspired such as Forte dei Marmi beach club Bamba Issa—its theme interior overhauled each summer by radical design outfit Gruppo UFO—and Florence’s Space Electronic, its space-age interiors courtesy of collective Gruppo 9999.

Night Fever Designing Club Culture 1960–Today at Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein/Basel

DJ Larry Levan in Paradise Garage, New York, 1979.
© Bill Bernstein, David Hill Gallery, London

Opening this week at Weil am Rhein’s Vitra Design Museum, Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960–Today marks a sequence of critical cultural zeitgeist where these epicentres of underground culture stand as pantheons of nocturnal frivolity; nightclubs presented as as spaces that merge architecture and interior design with sound, light, fashion, graphics, and visual arts in a contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk.

From the legendary Ian Schrager-founded, Andy Warhol-frequented Studio 54, to Area or Mudd Club—spaces where Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat forged their careers—and to Europe, where Manchester’s Haçienda defined a generation and Berlin’s Berghain stands as a modern sanctuary of alternative lifestyle, the exhibition follows a chronological concept with a music and light installation created specially by exhibition designer Konstantin Grcic and lighting designer Matthias Singer offering visitors the opportunity to experience all the many facets of nightclub design, from visual effects, to sounds and sensations.

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Studio 54, Calvin Klein Party, 1978 © Hasse Persson

A vital journey through a world of glamour, anti-glamour, crossover and subcultures, Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960–Today presents a display of record covers that range from Peter Saville’s designs for Factory Records to Grace Jones’s Nightclubbing, alongside a collection of films and vintage photographs, posters, and flyers—contemporary works by photographers and artists such as Mark Leckey, Chen Wei, and Musa N. Nxumalo completing a multidisciplinary ramble through the significance of art and design in club culture and its music.

Presenting evidence that the nightclub is so much more than simply a music venue, the exhibition thoughtfully reveals how—for those in search of the night that never ends—club culture is an all encompassing immersive environment, a place for intense experiences, and spaces that intrinsically link cultural disciplines.

Showcasing work from talent like Keith Haring; Grace Jones; Ben Kelly; Miu Miu; OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture); Andy Warhol; Hasse Persson; Peter Saville; and Walter Van Beirendonck, Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960–Today runs at the Vitra Design Museum from 17 March—9 September.

@vitradesignmuseum

Poster for the Discotheque Flash Back, Borgo San Dalmazzo, 1972

Poster for the Discotheque Flash Back, Borgo San Dalmazzo, 1972. Design: Gianni Arnaudo / Studio65

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

Gruppo UFO, Bamba Issa, Night Shelter for the Beach Rescue Camels, Bamba Issa, 1969

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

Palladium, New York, 1985

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

Roger Tallon, Swivel Chair Module 400 for the (unrealised) Nightclub Le Garage, Paris, 1965

Roger Tallon, Swivel Chair Module 400 for the (unrealised) Nightclub Le Garage, Paris, 1965. © Vitra Design Museum, Foto: Thomas Dix

Discotheque Flash Back, Borgo San Dalmazzo

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

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

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

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The backlash against disco peaked at the Disco Demolotion Night at Comiskey Park, Chicago, in the summer 1979.
© Diane Alexander White Photography

Related Story: Boogie Wonderland: Studio 54 had to be seen to be believed, we spoke to the man whose photographs mean you now can…

Nightclub Les Bains Douches, Paris, 1990

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

Bureau a, DJ booth inside The Club, Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2016

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

Volker Hinz, Grace Jones at 'Confinement' theme, Area, New York, 1984

Volker Hinz, Grace Jones at ‘Confinement’ theme, Area, New York, 1984. © Volker Hinz

Poster for the Nightclub The Electric Circus, New York, 1967

Poster for the Nightclub The Electric Circus, New York, 1967. Design: Chermayeff & Geismar © Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar

Newcastle Stage at Horst Arts & Music Festival, Belgium, 2017

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

Dance floor at Paradise Garage, New York, 1978

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

Martin Eberle, Tresor außen, Berlin, 1996

Martin Eberle, Tresor außen, Berlin, 1996. From the series Temporary Spaces © Martin Eberle

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

Akoaki, Mobile DJ Booth, The Mothership, Detroit, 2014. © Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges, in collaboration with Bryce Detroit

Related Story: Sónar, a history: the evolution of a restless festival forever intent on doing things very differently indeed…

Despacio Sound System, New Century Hall, Manchester International Festival

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

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

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

Musa N. Nxumalo, Wake Up, Kick Ass and Repeat

Musa N. Nxumalo, Wake Up, Kick Ass and Repeat!, photograph from the series 16 Shots, 2017. © Musa N. Nxumalo / Courtesy of SMAC Gallery, Johannesburg

Chen Wei, In the Waves #1, 2013

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

Guests in Conversation on a Sofa, Studio 54, New York, 1979

Guests in Conversation on a Sofa, Studio 54, New York, 1979.
© Bill Bernstein, David Hill Gallery, London

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Vincent Rosenblatt, Tecnobrega #093 Tupinambá, 2016. From the series Tecnobrega – The Religion of Soundmachines. Metropoles Club, Belém do Pará, Brazil. Inkjet print on Baryta paper (2018), 100 x 66 cm © Vincent Rosenblatt

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