Change is Good
How to keep a London nightclub hot, the David Collins way
Stephen F. Milioti -- Interior Design, 8/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Whether in SoHo or Soho, nightclubs work hard to stay cool. What's chic one month is old news the next, so exclusivity can literally be the key. To get into A60, the roof-terrace bar at New York hotel 60 Thompson, for example, one needs a special card key, distributed only to the elect.
Keys are also being produced for founding members and friends of Kabaret's Prophecy, a two-month-old addition to London's members-only club scene. Usher, Jade Jagger, Bridget Hall, and Richard Branson have already dropped by—to name a few. But will visits from A-listers remain constant? David Collins thinks so. "In a club atmosphere, you have to keep things constantly changing," says the designer. "Kabaret's Prophecy is like an on- going project, with elements evolving constantly."
Collins found his trendy chameleon in LEDs: Two of the subterranean club's four walls feature multicolored graphics, animation, and phrases that alternate on a nightly basis, altering the whole look and vibe of the place. At any given time, a red, blue, or green glow might be infusing the otherwise gray palette with new verve. '
The cutting-edge technology behind the effects is MiPIX, constructed from modular intelligent LED pixel blocks. To generate live content for the walls, David Collins Architecture & Design brought in United Visual Artists, a company of graphic engineers and live-performance video specialists. And a VJ from UVA is present every evening.
As the LEDs cycle through different configurations, light artist Chris Levine's lasers sweep across the 1,500-square-foot club's main room. The floor is laser-cut vinyl, known to hold up well under heavy foot traffic—and dancing feet. Bar stools and banquettes are covered in paisley-punched graphite-gray leather, easily wiped down after a wild Saturday night.
For sparkle, Collins looped the room's reflective bar face with trails of crystals backlit with blue LEDs. And jet-black crystals enhance an antique chandelier that once belonged to Collins himself. It now hangs in the entry, lacquered black and wired with a combination of blue LEDs and red lasers.
To up the club's cool factor and temper all the tech, Collins tapped the talents of colleagues in the art world. They include Natasha Law, whose work generally deals with themes of voyeurism and privacy. In the 'entry of Kabaret's Prophecy, she embellished glass doors with line drawings of couples in compromising positions.
Cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, best known for his Tank Girl series, makes an even racier mark in the rest rooms. Oversize printed renditions of gritty-looking characters crouch in corners and even straddle stalls. It's certainly an unexpected jolt from Collins—much more often associated with soothingly swanky than tongue-in-cheek trashy. But the eminent designer takes it in stride, explaining, "They perfectly achieve that retro-pop 1970's feel."