Last year, it was hard not to reimagine our humble abodes into the places we used to frequent – kitchens turned into makeshift bars, bathrooms transformed into spas and salons, and any nook reserved to be the new work offices. The rise in snazzy home décor in the past year from the internet’s belovedPoltronova squiggly mirrors to the dreamy pastel geometric candles, parallel to TikTok’s aesthetic pleasing algorithm, were also an indication of last year’s nifty ways to personalize interiors. Putting the puzzle pieces together, it makes sense that disco balls have been this year’s go to décor and fashion’s forever inspiration in both the unexpected and the unconventional ways. From being night club’s iridescent core to becoming fashion’s party favor to now being 202’s It-decor.
The disco ball has origins that date centuries back, way before its disco decade fame. The earliest documentation of the décor can be traced back to 1897 found in the Bostonian publication Electrical Worker. Fast-forward about a decade to 1917 when Louis B. Woester officially patented what would be the modern-day prototype of the festive installation (under his company Stephens and Woeste), although it was named the myriad reflector at the time.
As the center of entertainment, the myriad ball reached a pinnacle during the 1920s jazz era, the first of two music movements that would popularize the ornament. Found in night clubs and dance halls, the glitter ball accented the thriving night life of jazz, a sonic movement that erupted after prohibition led to a vault of an underground night scene, it’s kaleidoscopic lighting effect making it the perfect accessory for an evening out. Even then, it was recognized culturally as seen with its feature in Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt, a 1927 silent documentary capturing the nightlife of the German city.
While Woester’s company excelled at the time the myriad reflector’s legacy was short-lived, its popularity to fade only until the 1970s and into the 1980s when disco culture propelled the object into favored status again and birthed a new name that would last for decades. The disco ball’s fluorescent nature matched the groovy-upbeat novelty and both became symbols of the liberating momentum. Notorious night clubs like Studio 54 and The Loft hailed dancers, partygoers, and celebrities who frequented the dance floor; disco-centered programs like Soul Train and Hot City hung disco balls stamped with the show’s signage and in music heavy films like Saturday Night Fever and Thank God It’s Friday disco balls were another character. Elsewhere in music, the accessory was exaggerated to fit up-scale concert venues as seen with U2’s “PopMart Tour” (1997) and Madonna’s “Confessions” tour (2006) or in pop music exemplified through Saturday Night Live‘s Harry Styles disco ball photo shoot and Dua Lipa’s NRJ Hit Music Only performance.
The mirror ball’s storyline in fashion history also runs just as deep (the creativity that runs through interiors and in fashion often run parallel). Paco Rabanne’s affinity for metallics found their way into his classic mod dress silhouettes. A few years ago, Balenciaga turned dresses into technicolored disco balls with a bit of a galactic flair for the Spring/Summer 2009 collection and Chanel featured a mini interaction in the form of a hand bag. More recently Bottega Veneta transformed its signature pouch and a pair of chunky, square-toed heels into discothèque dreams.
There’s no doubt that the disco ball’s party stature still remains true so much so that its influence in music interiors and fashion have made it a go-to accessory even in places where the beat isn’t prevalent.
Up and coming, social media crazed restaurants and bars for example have been keen to placing disco balls in their blueprint. Candy Bar in Detroit, Michigan tops its 1920s pink-hued fanciness (complete with clam shell seats, velvet tussled curtains, tulip lamp shades, and grand chandelier) with a disco ball that illuminates its dreamy décor. In a more clichéd fashion, Wonder Bar in Austin, Texas is a typical ’70s atmosphere recreated to fit Instagram’s photogenic operandi from the mini disco ball cups to the hanging reflectors. Across the world in Vienna, Austria at pizza place Disco Volante, the traditional oven is replaced by a rotating, ginormous disco ball that serves pizza and a modern take on ’70s ambiance.
Chic hotels have also become a fan of disco ball décor, used to pinpoint theming or embedded in conceptual design. The Dive Motel located in Nashville, Tennessee is a model of the former; with its rooms and exterior splashed in a golden color scheme and Art Deco designs and furniture the disco ball fits right at home. Yet spots like London’s W Hotel (which stars a sculpture of hanging mirror balls in the lobby) or Paris’ Hôtel Amour (where a cluster of mini disco balls decorate the all-black bathroom ceiling) bring on a mysterious aura to the adornment.
Designers’ knack for transforming the once outdated piece into a trending item has bled down to everyday interior thanks to social media. Scour Pinterest you’d find disco balls laid out on living rooms floors, sat on vanity tables, strategically hung up in front of windows for the lighting effect, even in kitchens in bathrooms in its shining glory. Disco ball plant pots, an inherently Gen Z concept are a common occurrence on TikTok, often in minimally eccentric or bohemian styled rooms. Varying in size and placement (some act as table fillers while others are caressed by macrame string and hung from ceilings) they can be bought or made at home much like TikToker @_cindyliu’s DIY tutorial‘s DIY tutorial, which finishes off with a clip of planter amongst a room full of other plants and pastel colors (also hinting at the kind of aesthetic disco ball décor is being placed in)
Alongside the common household, celebrity homes have embracingly welcomed the disco ball as a festive home piece yet in different lights. Embedded in his New York City apartment, Andy Cohen’s disco décor (under the guidance of LA interior eye Eric Hughes) takes on a 1960s feel with a mirror ball painted luminescent gold that ups the wood paneled walls. It may allude to the nature of the décor’s heyday but it’s more of an ode to Cohen’s “clubhouse” or the studio where he films his late night talk show Watch What Happen’s Live with Andy Cohen. Across the country, Cara Delevingne’s Los Angeles home, which was designed by Nicolò Bini, a disco ball lies inside a chandelier to adapt to the model’s personality – “all of a sudden it feels like me,” she told Architectural Digest.
Whether disco balls are used intentionally for their spunky aesthetic or the spaces themselves take on a whole new meaning on of it, they’re just one indication on how quarantine shaped how approach our homes with a creative eye. Who knows what funky décor will find its way into our homes next.
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