Inside the Screen: The Handmaid’s Tale TV Show Incredible Set Design
In a day when we are all celebrating the United States’ independence, it would only make sense to go and retrieve one of the most relevant tv shows in today’s world: The Handmaid’s Tale. Set in a dystopian future, where the independent United States close their walls to the world and create their own totalitarian and religious-based regime, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most popular tv series of 2017. Contradicting everything we know about independence and free-will, Gilead – the new found USA – is probably one of the realities we fear the most in today’s world. However, today we are not here to discuss dystopian politics but to talk about the outstanding work done in The Handmaid’s Tale tv show and their set design, which is proof that contemporary cinematography artwork still exists.
Just like we can hear Offred’s character say in the first episode, “in this house, little things mean everything”. This is true not only for the Commander’s house but also for the entire Hulu tv series. In a production where nothing and no detail is left to chance, production designer Julie Berghoff and art director Evan Webber come to prove in their amazing work that little things do mean everything. Let’s see how…
First things first, the production design team wanted to make sure everything felt authentic in this The Handmaid’s Tale tv show remake. Only real materials were used in building the sets. From real hardwood to furniture and paintings, everything is very authentic and real. Aside from that, everything else was taken into account: textures, patterns, and even sounds were important in the conception and designing of the interiors.
Berghoff stated that Offred’s room was one of the most difficult rooms to design, just because it doesn’t really have anything. There is no art, no color, no personality. It is a way to take everything from the handmaid and isolate her from the previous world. However, taking into consideration that she was a book editor in her previous life, the set designer decided to put a desk in her room, even though she is not allowed to write. In the end, they found a way to make her room a constant reminder of what she can’t have.
Colors are pretty much everything in The Handmaid’s Tale world. The costumes worn by the characters ended up driving the color palettes of the entire set. Berghoff said she wanted to support costume designer Ane Crabtree’s period costumes, while keeping the feel of the present day. She chose tones that would complement both the character’s stories and their wardrobes, such as white for Offred’s room, which gives it the feel of a sanitarium. Rich blues, on the other hand, are reserved for spaces of Serena Joy, the Commander’s wife.
The supermarket sets, however, are some of our absolute favorites. The art department took the time to create tags for all the products. In a world where women aren’t allowed to read, creating tags and labels meant creating a new language of symbols. That detail is perhaps what makes it the most unsettling, considering that, with the exception of the peculiar labels that lack words, the brightly lit grocery store would not seem out of place in modern day.
GETTING INTO GILEAD WITH STYLE…
This noble and elegant table piece boasts a patterned composition of straight brass tubes in rhythm with the irregular shades of the Estremoz white marble, defining the jazzy saxophone melody creating a beautiful match for the classiest environments.