Friday, March 20, 2009

The Designing Director

One of my favorite writer/directors in Hollywood is Nancy Meyers who gave us the romantic comedies What Women Want, The Holiday and Something's Gotta Give.

Her female characters are smart yet vulnerable, funny yet quirky and always classically chic. A Meyers film will almost certainly have a powerful woman, a love triangle and to-die-for interiors.

Besides being a master with the pen and the camera lens, she is a devoted design devotee as well. Her imprint is seen in every painting, club chair and window treatment from the Los Angeles bungalow of character Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) in The Holiday to Erica Barry's (Diane Keaton) Hamptons beach house from SGG. Both films were huge hits with the design community (and the general public), both widely envied and ultimately copied.

Many of SGG's furnishings came from Clarence House, Lee Jofa, Mimi London and Rug Loft. Laura Holland, Director of Marketing Services for Hickory Chair, noted Erica's Chelsea Bed from their Thomas O'Brien Collection was very popular with their customers (the film's designers requested the nail head trim be left off). Incidentally, the Chelsea Bed gets another fifteen minutes of fame as designer Michael Smith has ordered it for none other than the Obamas in the White House.

Inspired by designer Marcel Wolterinck's book, In/Ex (Antique Book Collectors Club, 2005, available on Amazon), the tailored contemporary interiors of The Holiday give new meaning to the terms sleek and serene.

Rooms in earth tones of gray, brown and green mixed with modern furnishings for a Spanish Colonial house in Brentwood (via soundstage) fit the bill as Meyer's wanted "Cameron's home to be classic and elegant and only slightly edgy and young."

Along with production designer Jon Hutman and set decorators Beth Rubino of SGG, Cindy Carr, Anna Pinock and David Martin Smith on The Holiday, Meyer's own interior designer James Radin of Los Angeles was a contributor to the design aesthetic as well. For more of his cinema style interiors, see the website

Meyers is hard at work in New York on her next romantic comedy with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin vying for the attentions of Meryl Streep. Not to divulge any plot lines but I hear there is an architect/character involved -- no doubt there will be a strong design element as well. The film premieres Christmas Day and I can hardly wait.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures, Courtesy of Hickory Chair and The Holiday/David Smith

Many thanks to Jayne Chase for plugging Cinema Style on her radio show A Fashionable Life.
Be sure to check out her fashionable website too!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cinema Style is ready for its close-up Mr. DeMille

This marks the debut of Cinema Style, my blog that will chronicle, celebrate and detail both the past and present in design, inspiration and trends in the movies.

The spark of this idea actually came to me in the eighties (long before blogs were invented) when a client asked me to duplicate a movie interior. The set in question was the sensual yet elegant Park Avenue via Queens soundstage apartment in the Tom Berenger-Mimi Rogers film Someone To Watch Over Me.  I didn't have to rent the video as the sets left an indelible image. Of course today the over-the-top master bedroom is a bit dated but gives us a great snapshot of Manhattan interiors during what I call the "Bonfire of the Vanities" period -- a time when Wall Street, abundance and chintz were king.

Since this time  I have married my two passions of film and design into a writing career, covering the topic of film and television production design and set decoration for both national and international magazines. I have also been working for the past several years on a book on the history of Hollywood art direction for Harper Collins (one of these days it will be finished). My travels have taken me everywhere from a backlot in Burbank to Fox Studios in Australia and it has been quite an education.  

While movies are one of the greatest forms of escape, they also entertain, educate and in many instances, set the trends.  In future posts,  I plan to cover the influence and inspiration of the cinema through set decoration (think interior design), architecture, fashion and style.

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures