Friday, October 14, 2011

Make An Entrance

MAKE AN ENTRANCE: Okay, so the gothic look may not be your cup of devil's claw tea.   But you gotta admit the sets for the classic 1931 Dracula film can still send chills up your spine -- for all the right reasons.  Sadly not credited onscreen, Russell A. Gausman's art direction for one of the most influential horror films of all time (neck to neck with the 1931 Frankenstein with art direction by Charles D. Hall) truly set the visual tone of scary for generations of art directors to mimic.  Massive rooms with massive staircases, windows and fireplaces with their massive andirons create the perfect backdrop for the blood-thirsty Count to seduce his victims.  STYLE TIP: Bigger is better when it comes to creating environments not soon to be forgotten.  Look at the scale in your rooms -- is everything pretty much the same height, width, depth?  If you're taller than most everything in your room, then you've got design problems, my friend.  If you have a mirror in the room, make it one big, tall mirror -- even if you have to lean it against a wall.  Then, start to create differing height scenarios around that -- and voila you'll begin to resolve the issue.  Accessories can be in various sizes--from miniature to large--to make the point as well.  Make your curtains reach to the ceiling and not just the window height.  I'll stop there, but you get the idea.  If you are in a situation where you can control the architectural elements, then by all means double the size of what is standard.  Look at these pics from Dracula for reference and you can apply that to contemporary, traditional and transitional interiors.  FINAL NOTE:  Next time you watch your favorite film, look at it from a design point of view and you just might see every lamp, table and chair in a new light.  Must read: Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction by Cathy Whitlock