All images courtesy of Tanya Bowd.
Tanya Bowd is a set decorator based in London. Trained in theatre design, Tanya has worked across theatre, opera, film and television. Her latest project was The Great, a satirical, comedic drama about the rise of Catherine the Great from Hulu Originals. It involved set decorating an eighteenth-century palace set build over four large sound stages at 3 Mills Studio in East London over the summer 2019. Bowd tells us about the project: “A large part of the preparation time was spent sourcing fabrics for upholstery, drapes and bedding. Inspiration came from many sources. The Wallace Museum in London. A Christie's catalogue from 2007. The Palaces in Europe. The V&A in London.”
“Working to a colour palette ascribed to each character for both set and costumes, I scoured flea markets, shops and fabric libraries in Paris, London and Brussels to furnish the set with silks, damasks, velvets and tapestries. Moodboard after moodboard was created to ascertain that furniture, objects and fabrics came together as a harmonious whole.”
“Furniture wise, around 300 pieces were upholstered. Fringing, trim and tassels feature heavily, a particular favourite for Catherine's bedding, pale blue and gold, was sourced from a specialist in Paris, as was the fabric for her bedding. So as not to appear brand new, some fabrics were distressed slightly, and a specialist in ageing fabrics was commissioned. The drapery, being period, involved meticulous research, and drawings issued of pelmets, tails and swags. A number of drapes people then set about making them all, adding decorative patterns with trim, edged with fringing and finished with sumptuous tiebacks.”
“Cushions and bolsters were made in a myriad of colours and textures, with some antique cushions added to the ensemble. The beds, particularly Peter's, are huge, so sheets and bed covers had to be made especially. Working to a tight schedule of twelve weeks meant that costume makers, upholsterers, and soft furnishings makers were very busy.”
The Great is billed as an occasionally true story. If you liked The Favourite, then this is similar in feel, being written by the same team. Currently available on Starzplay.