Ever wonder whose vision is behind the lifestyle photos you see in our ads and brochures? The “look” of our brand is actually a result of the combined efforts of dozens of people. We recently chatted with one of those talented folks, Megan Gordon, about her work as a set designer.
How do you begin a set design? I like to get into the heads of the people we imagine inhabiting the space. I want to know what they read, where they work, who they have relationships with and what their hobbies are. Sometimes I collaborate with our writers to create those personas, but other times it’s just me.
Can you give us an example? Sure. The Sensate set was all about a couple at home on the weekend, getting ready to have friends over in the evening. It’s not luxury or gadgets they’re interested in as much as quality and having the best tools for the job. So, if grandma’s wooden spoon is perfect for mixing cupcake batter, then it’s the right tool. This was the starting point for the design.
How does that translate to set details? I drew on the rustic, worn character of the wooden spoon and the contemporary style of Sensate while choosing set materials. For example, we used natural birch to line the cabinet but countered the birch with tinted gray glass. We chose an older material for the floor but used metal-flecked solid-surface counters.
Do you collaborate with the stylist and photographer early in the process? Definitely. I work one-on-one with the stylist regularly, with both of us pulling tear sheets for the overall design and styling. And I always have the voice of the photographer in my head, reminding me to include a window or door in the design for a light source. We’ve been working with removable walls too, which really help with detailed product shots.
Where do you look for ideas and inspiration for your sets? Blogs, Pinterest, and stacks and stacks of magazines.
Any favorites? Magazines would be Elle Décor Italia, Vogue Living Australia. I really like Australian shelter magazines.
Trend spotting and forecasting is a huge part of your job. Is there anything you’re seeing right now? It’s not new really, but curation on- and offline is everywhere. It’s this sense of the “power of one” expressed in eclectic but deliberate mixing and matching of things.
How did you get into set design? I started out studying sculpture and industrial design, but it was while I was assisting my cousin who was a wardrobe stylist that I started to really think about sets and styling.