When Webber decorates, it's a wrap


Clubs - Bars - Nightlife

February 17, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Next time you're shaking it at One, put down your drink for a second and look around. Not at the hotties on the dance floor but at the ceilings and walls. Most likely, they are spectacular and will look totally different next time you're there.

And if it's a big night it was probably designed by former raver Rania Webber. She designed the club's look for many major events, including last New Year's Eve and Halloween.

"When people go out, and they spend money to have an experience," said Webber, 29, "they want an environment where they can let go from their daily life."

And this means fabric, lasers and mirrors. It means back lighting. It means something funky and new.

It is Webber's job to transform raw nightclubs -- usually unfinished gritty spaces in the harsh daylight -- into wonderlands that can charge admission.

"We go in and try to change the shape of the place," she said. She stretches hundreds of yards of spandex material across the ceilings. She builds towers of fabric, constructs DJ boxes and designs wall hangings.

"I walk in, and I have the same reaction that everyone else does -- it is always good," said Andrea Burkert, owner of One. "It changes the space, it goes with our theme. It works." When the nightclub advertised its New Year's extravaganza, the owners made a point of mentioning Webber's company, Cyber-Quest, in the ads.

Technically, what Webber does is interior design, but she doesn't talk about it in those terms. She refers to her final product as an installation.

Cyber-Quest is also known for its multiple takes on that '70s club standard, the disco ball.

"They are 3 feet to 12 feet in diameter," she said. "Shining lasers on it creates these insane lights."

Webber and her business partner Adam Ryan -- he's now opening their Los Angeles office -- have created environments for fashion shows, restaurants and even politicians. (She designed the stage for Washington Mayor Anthony Williams' 2003 inauguration).

The Fells Point resident doesn't have any formal art training. She grew up in Baltimore, graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and attended Essex Community College. "I was always one of those kids who sat in the back dreaming. I still am that girl," she said.

She's taught herself about design and got started in the 1990s rave scene. "The whole rave culture was connected to the Internet, everyone was becoming friends with each other and going to parties," she said.

Lately she's been branching out. Webber has created the decor at several local restaurants, including Armadillos Tex-Mex Cafe in Fells Point and the Valentine's Day ambience at Dead Freddies Bar and Grill in Bel Air. Recently, she designed a set for a local cable show.

The challenge, of course, is always coming up with a new fresh look.

"I read a lot of magazines to see what is on the up and up and what is new, and music is also inspirational," she said. But the real inspiration for her fantasy creations are more ordinary. "It really comes from life," she said.

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