Posted on March 16 2015
This morning I raved about the super cool set design for Erdem’s AW15 show. If you haven’t already, quickly go and read that post for all the background info.
Done? Good. So the man behind these amazing, atmospheric collections is set designer extraordinaire Robin Brown. I was just blown away by Robin’s work – the overall vibe, the beautiful dilapidated aura that pulls you in, the meticulous attention to detail. This is someone working on another level! I was very excited (like embarassingly fan girl excited) to pick his brains for this interview. My highlight was discovering that he’s a Hitchcock fan too, and loves meshing and melding eras as much as I do.
How long did it take you to create the Erdem set?
Erdem and I met briefly before Christmas and chatted through his thoughts and our inspirations. I then spent about four weeks on before the show sharing reference images and set design ideas – everything from vintage wallpapers to prop dressing. We had long discussions about the mink coloured carpet! The actual set build took about a week – four days to construct the set, three days to assemble everything, wallpaper it and scenic age everything, and one day to dress the props.
I loved the references you used to create The Collector and Erdem’s AW15 set – what gives you the most interiors inspiration?
Definitely the films of Hitchcock. And Francis Ford Coppola’s One from the Heart is always inspirational. The photography of Stephen Shore, and designers like Morris Lapidus, Jean Prouve, and Henry Noyce. One of my favourite homes is Erno Goldfingers’ Willow Road House. Travel is endlessly inspiring too, and the countries I photograph the most are India, Spain and Ukraine.
How did your Erdem set differ from The Collector?
The Erdem set was a new project in a more theatrical and cinematic style. It shared my interest in using environment to describe character, but was set in a looser period than The Collector – I got to mix the 40’s with the 50’s and 70’s too.
You seemed to have a very detailed idea of the fictional person you were creating the apartment for. Do you always start with a character when creating sets?
I tend to do a lot of image research first, and during that process I discover historical characters and stories. When I’m actually searching for the physical objects to dress the set, the layers of everything once it’s been assembled tend to add up to a new unique character. Even though every object all originally had different associations and origins, they all seem to come together at the end.
Amazing how that always seems to happen! Do you use the same approach with designing your own home?
I use this approach in all my work, whether it’s for an installation, a film set, or an interior project. But my own home is a much less studied affair!
Favourite design decade? Probably the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s. Knowing that in real terms the beginning of a new decade is still reflecting what happened at the end of the last, in design at least. There is a real elegance and invention to design from that period.
Favourite Hitchcock film? Rear Window, but North by Northwest is a close second.
Where do you like to source things for your sets?
Mostly from flea markets and antique dealers, in the UK but also in France and Belgium. And prop houses in London. My favourite item from The Collector is a small black and white picture of a teenager. I have no idea who the girl might be, but I spotted the photo in a flea-market in Angers and the moment I saw it I knew I had to include it. It hints at a family or at his private life in a way I like.
Are you a collector too?
Maybe! I have an eclectic collection of 20th century lights up until the 1980’s, which I have ended up using on almost every job. I also have a lapsed collection of photographs, and portraits of strangers from all the countries I have visited. And I’m gradually building a collection of vintage magazines and books on popular culture and interior design.
Lastly, what makes a place feel like home to you?
I think it’s the accumulation of layers of different objects that creates a sense of being settled.