We just finished watching The Queen’s Gambit in Netflix and I was so impressed by the cinematography, costumes, sets and the overall impeccable production design and styling. The last time a series’ art direction and design made such an impression on me was when I watched Mad Men.
The show is situated in the 1950s and ’60s as the story’s fictional heroine Elizabeth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) — a brilliant yet self-destructive chess prodigy raised in an orphanage — rises to international fame.
The show’s production designer Uli Hanisch is behind the sets, whether it’s the orphanage, or the traditional mid-century-modern home, or the glamorous chess-tournament events hosted in Las Vegas, Paris and Mexico City. Everything is palette-matched and perfect. Special mention will have to go to the full-pattern and colourful wallpapers inside the Wheatley home.
It is interesting that, while the story spans the globe, most of The Queen’s Gambit was shot in Berlin, even the Aztec Hotel chess tournament which is supposedly based in Mexico City.
Designed by Gabriele Binder, costumes for The Queen’s Gambit reflect the growing sophistication and self-assurance of the main character, often incorporating structural lines and black-and-white patterns, taking inspiration by chess colours, while paying homage to Pierre Cardin, Courrèges and the Mod style of the era.
A very interesting (virtual) exhibition of the costumes included in the series is presented in “The Queen and The Crown” by the Brooklyn Museum.
A lovely house in Brooklyn, designed by BFDO architects, for two booklovers with two lucky cats. The large main bookcase has enough space on the top for the cats to walk around and also trap doors that allow the cats to access the floor above.
Dave Mullen is the creator of the Geometry Club, an Instagram project with an entire feed of images with the same composition and subject matter. Mullen first launched the project just for himself taking his own photos of symmetrical, triangular compositions, but soon he exhausted his collection and decided making it a collaborative project. So, he put together a website, drew up some guidelines to ensure consistency (see the GIF above) and invited others to submit their own symmetrical images. He is now working with a developer to create a free app, that will help people take perfectly aligned pictures.
A very sophisticated apartment in Paris! Love the idea of the beautiful ‘open’ kitchen separated by glass from the rest of the living room. The family wanted an ‘open kitchen’, but in France it wasn’t common to have kitchens opening into the living room. They came up with the idea of a glass wall as a solution, so that they still have a little separation from the food preparation and the noise of the kids, in case one of them wanted some quiet time.
I love how this filmmaker has creatively transformed an old van into a mobile studio. After deciding to embark on a creative “road show” around the U.S., Zach Both bought a van, and started to renovate the interior, taking influences from contemporary architecture. With no prior experience in carpentry, he managed to complete the work by himself and also decided to record everything down. The result was The Vanual, a website where he shares the entire process of converting a van into a camper and living a mobile lifestyle.
The iconic Watergate Hotel in Washington DC just reopened after a nine-year renovation. The new design features luxurious interiors and humorous touches that pay homage to the hotel’s historic past:
Guest key cards say “No need to break in,” reminding us of the Watergate break-in scandal at the nearby office building that led to the resignation of president Nixon. Guests are also free to take the pens inscribed ‘Stolen from The Watergate Hotel’.
Lastly, most of the furniture throughout the hotel has been custom-made to look like it’s from the 1960s and the staff uniforms were created by the Emmy-winning Mad Men costume designer.
Look at these colors!Dominique Coulon and his associates have built a great colorful day nursery for the children of Buhl, a small village in north-eastern France. The nursery is actually arranged in multiple crowns that form a solid shape – like a castle – and has been designed to echo a 14th-century castle that dominates the area from a nearby hillside.