The nightclub scene is as fantastically eccentric as it has always been, as the “Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today” exhibition shows. Currently on display at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, the exhibition explores the design history of nightclub and it examines its cultural context as thriving hubs for experimenting with interior design, new forms of media, and alternative lifestyles.
“Night Fever” showcases a diverse range of chronically arranged material, like architectural models, furniture, graphic designs, fashion, film, and photography. The exhibition starts with the beginnings of the nightclub scene in the late 1960s and iconic clubs in New York and Europe — such as The Electric Circus designed by architect Charles Forberg in New York and Grupo 9999's Space Electronic in Florence, Italy. It also highlights the rise of disco in the 1970s and the release of “Saturday Night Fever”, which in turn sparked a backlash of homophobic and racist overtones that peaked at Disco Demolition Night in Chicago.
Exhibition designer Konstantin Grcic and lighting designer Matthias Singer created a music and light installation that lets visitors explore the visual effects, sounds, and sensations of nightclub design. Outside the installation's perimeter is a display of dance records that include Peter Saville's designs for Factory Records, Grace Jones' “Nightclubbing” album cover, and more.
As club culture has been increasingly adopted by global brands and yearly music festivals in recent years, other historic nightclubs from decades past have been pushed out of the city or only survive today as “modern ruins of a hedonistic past”.
The exhibition also showcases how architects are approaching the nightclub typology. Rem Koolhaas' OMA developed a proposal for a 21st-century Ministry of Sound II for London, while Akoaki from Detroit created a fun DJ booth called “The Mothership” to celebrate the rich club heritage of their hometown.
“Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today” is open through September 9.
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