- Article by Adrienne Hughes
Stepping away from the wonder cabinet, safari club and casino lounge style that has pervaded clubs over the past 10 years, Love Machine knows exactly what it is and, more importantly, who its audience is. This is a dance club where audiovisual technology is the main event.
With visual touchstones from Stanley Kubrick to Tron, the interior is effectively an artificial construct of LED. As with the Disney feature film Tron, the initial impact is one of floating with a mirror-lined entrance where LED lighting relays structural form to articulate space.
The effect is uncanny, unnerving and exhilarating, with the floor seemingly vanishing in an ad infinitum repetition of a receding line within the void.
For Conrad Manolidis, director of Blackmilk Interior Design and project lead, the brief allowed him to step away from what was currently happening and take a fresh look at how dance clubs could evolve. With a young audience in mind, the key driver was the realisation of how embedded the virtual world has become as an extension of reality.
Effectively, the phone, gaming and computers etc. comprise an age-specific reality, and so a club that continues this environment as a party space was not only imaginable, but had now become achievable.
“I was able to conceive an environment that was visualised as Tron, but only now has the technology become readily available and cost-effective for execution,” says Manolidis.
The dance floor area continues this theme with structural articulations of LED synced to the music to “explode the senses with a full experience of light and sound”.
Ranging from spatial articulation to freeform and a honeycomb pattern, the lights shift with perspective, appearing, for example, as a series of vertical paired stripes from the front, and dissolving myriad lines as the corner is approached and the mirrored walls are engaged.
Technology allows that the lights can be any colour. For the most part, however, the classic blue/white is used, with Saturday night all blue and one mid-week night all red. The space was stripped to the bones with the exception of the existing black stone-faced bar. From there all surfaces were painted (Dulux) or powder-coated (Interpon) a deep dark blue to allow the curved forms to be realised without interfering with the spatial acumen.
The bar has a decidedly futuristic appeal, with an illuminated surface of light blocks (Ice, Baresque). Dark blue carpet tiles (Curriculum Exam Blue, Godfrey Hirst) continue the colour palette while offering a sturdy, club ready flooring.
Moreover, a slightly articulated pattern element gives added texture and movement. The bathrooms are simply divine. As a respite from the cacophony of the dance floor, a cool blue sky of fluffy white clouds floats across the floor (HyDesign) while a subtly articulated beehive pattern covers the walls (FlexTex Beehive panels, Baresque).
The clear glass wall separating male and female bathrooms makes reference to the transparency of social media, while the lozenge form of the mirror is pure Tron.
Lounges in a lighter blue (Warwick Fabrics) with small glowing tables are the prime giveaway that Blackmilk has worked with a large number of hospitality clients. They are robust, resilient, comfortable, containing and very much about booth ownership.
The overall layout is another cue, with an introduced mezzanine that gives dancefloor and DJ views to VIP seating and service. What makes this project of particular appeal is that all of this is simply the creation of a void to be overlaid by light and music.
The audience is, for the most part, the 20-something darlings who want to dance, drink and hang out with friends and, in these terms, Blackmilk has delivered the perfect venue. It has also delivered a fiscally cognisant environment where service, VIP and exclusivity are interwoven without slighting the main floor punters.
Photography by Ari Hatzis