Salone del Mobile Milano

Night Fever. Design Club Culture. 1960 – Today.

It was Charles Eames who unexpectedly said: “Take your nightlife seriously.” Can this be why discotheques and nightclubs are ideal experimental spaces, not just in terms of sound but also as regards fashion, design and architecture? What is there to say about the cultural, social and habitual evolution to which the nightspots formed the backdrop, if not the driver? 

The exhibition Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 - Today, on show at the Vitra Design Museum until 9th September, is a bid to highlight the inextricable relationship between real life and nightclubs, always seen as refuges for pure entertainment, exploring almost seventy years of history with a huge collection of memorabilia gathered by the curators Jochen Eisenbrand (Vitra Design Museum), Catharine Rossi (Kingston University, London) and Katarina Serulus (ADAM - Brussels Design Museum).

Partly thanks to the installation created by Konstantin Grcic and Matthias Singer, we are plunged into a hugely rock-style exhibition focusing on the epicentres of pop culture. Many clubs were actual works of art in the round, created by a mixture of interior architecture and furniture design, graphics and art, lighting and music, fashion and performance. These spaces attracted the leading experimental architects of the time, because their apparently democratic, unaltered and as-yet uncommercialised nature gave them the freedom to dream up new possibilities for architecture and design. The examples illustrated in the show range from Sixties Italian discotheques, created by exponents of Radical Design, to the legendary Studio 54, regularly frequented by Andy Warhol, with furnishings designed by the architect Scott Romley and the interior designer Ron Doud; the Mudd Club and Area in New York where the nightclub scene and the arts came together, creating new opportunities for emerging young artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Haçienda in Manchester, designed by Ben Kelly, and the concept proposal from OMA, under the aegis of Rem Koolhaas, for a new Ministry of Sound in London. 

As well as furniture, models and fashion, the exhibition includes rare film material, musical clips, graphic design and contemporary works by artists and photographers such as Mark Leckey, Chen Wei and Musa N. Nxumalo. Rounded off by extensive installations with music and lighting effects, Night Fever is a fascinating journey through subcultures and the worlds of glamour – in search of nights that know no end.


Night Fever. Design Club Culture. 1960 – Today.

Vitra Schaudepot
Charles-Eames-Straße 2
79576 Weil am Rhein

17th March – 9th September 2018
10.00 am – 6.00 pm


Vitra Design Museum:
Jochen Eisenbrand, Chief Curator
Meike Wolfschlag, Assistant Curator
Nina Steinmüller, Assistant Curator

Kingston University London:
Catharine Rossi, Co-Curator

ADAM – Brussels Design Museum:
Katarina Serulus, Co-Curator


© Vitra Design Museum
Photo: Mark Niedermann