Disco balls, pink neon, and fantastic green strobe lights currently adorn the walls of the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. These unlikely fragments form part of the exhibition, Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960-today, which explores the design history of nightclubs around the world. Lucky for those outside Germany, the catalog presents with the show’s collection, with countless photographs of exciting interiors and mind-bending architecture, leaving hardly any club scene undocumented. It also features maps leading you to the historical clubs of London, Johannesburg, New York, and more.
The essays inside examine the cultural contexts nightclubs have emerged from, and the ideologies and sensibilities informing their interior design, architecture, and graphics. You’ll read the design stories of all the classics—from Studio 54 to Manchester’s Hacienda to Berlin’s Berghain—but also of the underground clubs that were innovative but short-lived, or less mythologized.
We’ve selected four posters from the catalog’s radical club ephemera produced during the 1960s and 1970s: an era when new technological advances in light and sound were being connected with progressive architectural ideas to form fantastical hybrid spaces. Graphic design—in the form of posters—spilled out from tucked-away clubs and into the city for the first time. These little fragments captured the mood and energy of the nightclubs they emerged from, enticing the young to head underground and join the party. Nowadays, club posters blanket brick and concrete walls across most cities: we’re all too familiar with their language. These are some of the graphics that started it all, and which translated energetic electric sounds and innovative architectural experiments into distinctive, bold compositions.