Staying Alive! Nightclub architecture since the 1960s

Vitra Design Museum gets the 'Night Fever'

by Valentina Ieva
5 Love 4079 Visits

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.


»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.

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

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


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. 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.


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.


"Night fever, night fever
we know how to do it, oh
gimme that night fever, night fever
we know how to show it."


Interior view of Haçienda, Manchester  | Courtesy of Ben Kelly


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

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

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

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

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

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

© photo: Mark Niedermann


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


Night Fever Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today 17 March – 9 September 2018

Weil am Rhein/Basel Germany


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

    • Valentina Ieva

      Valentina Ieva


      Bari / Italy

      Laureata in Ingegneria edile-architettura, giornalista per professione, web writer per diletto. Amante di architettura, design, fotografia e libri di carta. Dipendente dai social, Instagram e InstaStories su tutti. Affamata di vita, viaggi e storie da scoprire. Qualunque forma d'arte mi affascina da sempre e non posso pensare una vita senza: emozioni forti, immaginazione, buona musica, cucina pugliese, sole e gatti. Per dirla con le parole di Battiato, non potrei vivere senza: ‘un soffio al)