Kingston lecturer to open exhibition celebrating nightclub culture

A KU lecturer is set to show how nightclubs can be important cultural sources at a museum exhibition that opened last weekend.

Dr Catharine Rossi, who teaches Art and Design history to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, has co-curated what is thought to be the first “large international exhibition that looks at the relationship between design and club culture”.

The ‘Night Fever’ exhibition, which includes photographs from the famous Studio 54 New York nightclub and parts of the dance floor from the former Haçienda club in Manchester, opened last Saturday at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.

Rossi wants to showcase how these former nightclubs were designed through a series of photographs, sculptures and objects from the clubs.

She said: “Nightclubs have been largely overlooked in the history of architecture… But for me that’s not what’s important. It’s this whole creativity in terms of architecture, interior design, technology – you name it – that has been overlooked and we should have a lot more understanding and respect for.”

The exhibition’s focus on the experimental design of international nightclubs from the 1960s to the present day seeks to change this. One of the most famous nightclubs it focuses on is Studio 54, which opened in the 1970s and gained a large celebrity clientele, including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Bianca Jagger who famously arrived there on a white horse.

The experimental designs of these locations will be mainly shown through photographs, art, film and graphic design materials. A music and light installation created by the exhibition designer Konstantin Grcic aims to give visitors a more real life experience of being inside the clubs using sounds and visual effects.

Rossi said: “You don’t want to just have leaflets on plinths in a white gallery. You wouldn’t really be telling any of the story of clubs. And it wouldn’t really talk about the importance of  experience and atmosphere for the design of nightclubs and the kind of culture its talking about.

“So we hope  for people to understand the value of the past of nightclub culture, but also at a time when lots of nightclubs have been closing in the last few years then its also an interesting time for people to ask what is the value of club culture today.”

The Night Fever exhibition will be showcased at the Vitra Design Museum until September 9 before touring other international museums.