The roaring ’20s brought us life, gave us meaning and people learned that life was not all about work. But it was in the late 1920s that a little silver screen would change our everyday routines and even 100 years later that little screen (even smaller now), is still one of our biggest achievements. Can you imagine your life without the background noise of a television? Or even your own lazy Sunday afternoons without turning on your tv? No. Even with all of our available screens, television has set itself as the centrepiece of our living rooms, we even arrange the furniture accordingly. With such a presence over the years from this tiny box and the wider movie screens, their broadcasts and imagery were one of the biggest propellers of pop culture around the world. Finally, typewritten black letters and words would escape our books and our imagination and gain life on a movie screen, and for a little more than a century, we’ve got glued to the screens.
There’s no doubt that tv played a major role in shaping our current (and past) society, and it’s such a rich and heavy subject, too deep to even put on paper. So, to correctly explore all the details regarding this subject would be needed an extended thesis, and one subject that is probably not explored enough, or at least heard enough, is all the amazing set design productions behind our favourite tv shows and movies. As a movie aficionado, I’ve come across some quite jaw-dropping movie sets that completely pulled me into the scene itself.
Who doesn’t remember the iconic scene where little Danny roams the empty corridors of the Stanley Hotel in Kubrick’s masterpiece “The Shining” (1980)? David Hick’s famous hexagonal carpet became a staple in pattern aesthetic both in hotels and residential projects, hauntingly beautiful.
“As a movie aficionado, I’ve come across some quite jaw-dropping movie sets that completely pulled me into the scene itself.“
That carpet has resonated through all of this time, a remarkable piece of tapestry that is iconic as the movie itself. This is just a small example throughout all movie and tv history where many directors and movies became famous for their beautiful cinematography. Even in movies filled with CGI and green screen effects, set decorations are essential to fill us in the aesthetic of the scene and provide us as viewers with the ambience to the scene itself. From small details to overpowering sets, these often-overlooked details are what makes us feel what the characters are feeling and experiencing. Accessories, lighting, upholstery and the architecture defined the mood for the scene and throughout the movie and the scene itself, and one very well-executed example of this practical set decoration is the Marvel series “WandaVision”, where we’re transported through various decades of television, paying homage to the most iconic tv shows, from scenes set in the ’60s to contemporary times. Set decoration in this case was crucial, the amount of respect for the detail’s characteristic to the Epoque, and every set changed from decade to decade complete with furniture and aesthetics from the respective time. A masterpiece of set decoration that complemented with visual effects, wardrobe and exquisite acting, created a visionary series that completely stands out in modern tv.
“Set decoration, in this case, was crucial, the amount of respect for the detail’s characteristic to the Epoque “
The 60s aesthetic was amazing, but the 70s where those colours really came to life were what made the series stand out. With a mid-century vibe, where households became vibrant with accessories, stripes and patterns in every fabric, where a scene-stealer. Furniture brands like Essential Home, specializing in mid-century modern furniture are an example of how these decorators get amazing pieces to decorate their sets with timeless pieces, in fact, the brand is already a staple in movie set decoration, even working with other Marvel production such as Netflix’s “Luke Cage”, where a jazz club could not be complete without a magnificent Botti Chandelier, the perfect addition to the set of “Harlem’s Paradise”, the night club where some of the most important plot twists and one of the main locations of the series. The heavily inspired jazz theme throughout the set made this customized chandelier the perfect addition.
As we’re able to see, pieces sometimes go unnoticed, but are so important to set the mood for the scene, they’re as important as the characters themselves, and a great decoration will definitely create the temperament of the scene, of course, complemented with all the other designs, such as sound and cinematography. This is especially noticeable in period pieces, medieval or regal periods, where architecture, art and the furniture were so loud, but even nowadays, in scenes, we often look for those details as well. Luxury penthouses for example, in movies, are always a dream of ours and creating a living room where we as viewers cover every detail are especially hard to produce. Set decorations have to find a balance between the reachable appeal of the scene, not to distance the viewer from the scene itself, but also to be a credible place where those characters find themselves. And creating a contemporary setting is much more difficult to fulfil, with ever-changing trends and style, is very easy for a room to go “out of style” from year to year, while timeless or Epoque specific scenes will always stay that way, timeless.
“every single detail in a scene is carefully thought out to create an ambience where we lose ourselves with the characters“
Iconic pieces create iconic scenes. We may never notice, we may never even look for them, but every single detail in a scene is carefully thought out to create an ambience where we lose ourselves with the characters, and the production team and set decoration had two things in mind: craft beautiful set designs and gracefully welcome us into them.
WRITTEN BY ANDRÉ MARTINS
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