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Monthly Design Review - September 2019

This month, to accompany our Forum question "How Do You Craft a Career", we review books on production design careers, written by or about established colleagues.


BY DESIGN: Interviews with Film Production Designers (Vincent LoBrutto, 1992)

The book is comprised of interviews with twenty prominent feature film production designers, such as Robert Boyle, Tony Walton, Polly Platt, Patrizia Von Brandenstein and Mel Bourne. Designers discuss their careers, their relationships with directors, and how they formulated and executed the technical and aesthetic designs of their film projects.

Buy the book here.


DESIGNING MOVIES: Portrait of a Hollywood Artist (Richard Sylbert and Sylvia Townsend, 2006)

This book is by and about Academy Award-winning production designer Richard Sylbert, who designed some of the most influential films of the 1960s and1970s, including "The Manchurian Candidate", "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", "The Graduate", "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown". Basing the book in part on the late designer's Hollywood memoirs, writer Sylvia Townsend, with the participation of Sylbert's widow, screenwriter Sharmagne Sylbert, has enhanced the production designer's original manuscript with candid interviews from some of his most famous collaborators, including Warren Beatty, Roman Polanski, and Francis Ford Coppola. The result is a portrait of a highly driven, sometimes tempestuous visionary who wasn't afraid to fight for the artistic integrity of the worlds he created on screen.

Buy the book here.


KEN ADAM DESIGNS THE MOVIES: James Bond and Beyond (Ken Adam, 2008)

Ken Adam's extensive personal archive of concept sketches, drawings, set stills, and photographs from every stage of his career forms the basis of this book. It showcases Adam's ascension to production design from art direction, his work on the Bond franchise and his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick. Using case studies from his career, the book shows the whole cycle of his production designs, from initial concept to what appears on the screen itself.

Buy the book here.



Academy Award winner Dante Ferretti is one of the world's most prominent production designers, and this book offers an incredibly detailed overview of his work and creative process. With an introduction by close collaborator Martin Scorsese and a long interview, the book showcases many of Ferretti's large-scale drawings, as well as photos and set illustrations.

Buy the book here.


HENRY BUMSTEAD and the World of Hollywood Art Direction (Andrew Horton, 2009)

Buy the book here.


WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES: The Shape of Films to Come (James Curtis , 2015)

Famous for originating the title "Production Designer", given to him by producer David O. Selznick for his work on "Gone With The Wind", William Cameron Menzies is one of Hollywood's most important artists. In a career spanning from the 1920s to the 1950s, Menzies collaborated with many of Hollwood's best directors such as D.W Griffith, Alfred Hitchcock and Frank Capra. Menzies' creativity went beyond design, and included producing and directing films.

The book draws from interviews with collaborators and family members, as well as Menzies' personal collection of original artwork, correspondence and scrapbooks. The result is a highly detailed account, a window into a different era and the beginnings of the production design profession.

Purchase the book here.


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