About the Book


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Who can forget the over-the-top, white-on-white, high-gloss interiors synonymous with the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals of the thirties? The lavish, opulent drawing rooms of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence? Or the trend-setting Hamptons beach house of Something’s Gotta Give? Through the use of film design— called both art direction and production design in the film industry—movies can transport us to new worlds of luxury, highlight the ornament of the everyday, offer a vision of the future, or evoke the realities of a distant era.

In Designs on Film (Harper Collins), journalist and interior designer Cathy Whitlock illuminates the often under celebrated role of the production designer in the creation of the most memorable moments in film history. Through a lush collection of rare archival photographs, Whitlock narrates the evolving story of art direction over the course of a century—from the massive Roman architecture of Cleopatra to Mrs. Robinson’s suburban lair in The Graduate to the digital CGI wonders of Avatar’s Pandora.

Photo Credits: Top, left to right, Sunset Boulevard/Photofest/Paramount Pictures, An American in Paris/Photofest/MGM, After the Thin Man/Photofest/MGM, Lost Horizons/Columbia Pictures. Middle, left to right: Age of Innocence/Courtesy of Dante Ferretti, The Graduate/Photofest/Embassy Pictures, Marie Antoinette/Photofest/Columbia Pictures, Cleopatra/Courtesy of John DeCuir Jr., Avatar/Photofest/Twentieth Century Fox, The King and I/Courtesy of John DeCuir, Jr. Bottom: Pride and Prejudice/Focus Features/Courtesy of Sarah Greenwood,It’s Complicated/Universal Pictures, The Nanny Diaries/Weinstein Company.

Drawing on insights from the most prominent Hollywood production designers and the historical knowledge of the venerable Art Directors Guild, Whitlock delves into the detailed process of how sets are imagined, drawn, built, and decorated. Designs on Film is the must-have look book for film lovers, movie buffs, and anyone looking to draw interior design inspiration from the constructions and confections of Hollywood. Whitlock lifts the curtain on movie magic and celebrates the many ways in which art direction and set design allow us to lose ourselves in the diverse worlds showcased on the big screen.

D E S I G N S  O N  F I L M


       Whitlock shares the best stories from the back lots on how beloved movies from all ages came to their final look-often by the design of artists, yet sometimes by divine chance. Featuring more than 400 magnificent photographs from films of every era and genre, Designs on Film will also offer scores of original sketches and renderings, many seen for the first time.