Conceiving immersive environments that transport audiences into new and uncanny realms, Something Curated takes a closer look at five production designers who create thought-provoking sets that, among other concerns, reflect upon, subvert and reimagine the state of nature and our planet’s future. Largely centred around the fashion industry, their diverse practices span dynamic shows, retail spaces, editorial design, eye-catching campaigns and more.
Nicke Bildstein Zaar
Working closely with Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, for the house’s Autumn/Winter 2020 show, spatial designer Nicke Bildstein Zaar’s production concept focussed on the threat of climate change. Fashion editors and friends of the brand sat within an enormous film studio in a northern suburb of Paris, where art director Bildstein Zaar artfully flooded the runway and front rows in an unnerving reference to the rising oceans. Contributing to the ominous atmosphere, immense LED screens suspended from the ceiling displayed foreboding images of fiery skies, eerie eclipses and hordes of crows.
Studio Dennis Vanderbroeck
Studio Dennis Vanderbroeck designs and creates spatial installations with its hyper-aestheticised visual language. With humour and whimsy, the studio creates autonomous installations that question the construction and deconstruction of identity. The practice’s projects include collaborations with Y/Project, Palais de Tokyo and Dover Street Market. Fabricated on a bed of verdant moss, for Y/Project’s recent ‘open studio’ at Dover Street Market Ginza, Vanderbroeck produced an installation inspired by the video campaign created by Frederik Heyman, comprising a ‘Y’-shaped couch surrounded by pulsating arms.
British set designer Thomas Petherick’s bold aesthetic has led him to work with some of the leading creatives and brands in the industry. Most recently, when Dazed joined forces with Selfridges to bring its Dazed Beauty media channel to life for a six-week retail experience, Petherick created a futuristic space in the department store’s beauty hall, comprising elements of artificial intelligence, and augmented-reality filters. The core structure of the installation appears like glistening columns of rock, formations of stone discovered on another planet. In the recent years, Petherick has collaborated with the likes of Kiko Kostadinov, Alexander Wang, Nike, and Vogue Italia, among others.
AVOIR is a recently launched Paris-based design and production studio operating between the boundaries of architecture, product and set design, with clients including Kenzo and footwear label Nodaleto. Having worked closely with designer Marine Serre from early on, the practice have been key in creating a strong spatial and material identity for the LVMH prize winner over the past seasons. From the label’s SS20 show hosted in a post-apocalyptic no-mans-land, featuring black plastic sheeting covering the runway, to spliced and recomposed pieces of furniture displaying garments and accessories during the showroom, AVOIR’s playful and striking work has already made a directional mark.
Julia Wagner is an Austrian born set designer based in New York. With a degree in Fine Art from London’s Central Saint Martins, she first started her career working in art direction. Informed by her multifaceted background, her practice consists of creating distinctive narratives, always balancing wit and beauty. Whether she is shooting fashion or working on spatial designs, Wagner injects a sophisticated rawness to her sets. Recent projects include editorials for Italian Vogue, W Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue Hommes and WSJ, as well as the striking album artwork for Scottish musician and DJ Sophie.
Feature image via Thomas Petherick