Close this search box.

Set Design: Influencing Interior Design Trends

Set Design: Influencing Interior Design Trends (Part 2)

Continuing on from last week’s Set Design: Interior Design Trends Post that focused on interior design ideas influenced by the set design from two of Wes Anderson’s iconic films, this week we draw inspiration from Set Designer Catherine Martin & Set Decorator Beverley Dunn who both worked on the opulent, 1920’s styled sets for the cinematic adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby.’

Baz Luhrmann’s vibrant re-imagining of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic captures the opulence and decadence of the roaring 1920’s. Luhrmann delivers a modern, mesmerizing portrayal of Fitzgerald’s novel that focuses on the glamorous world of the wealthy Jay Gatsby (played by the handsome Leonardo Dicaprio.) The film is a portrait of the Jazz Age, that explores themes of decadence, idealism and excess throughout the narrative of outsider Nick Carraway. Each scene is exceptionally shot, colour graded and manages to deliver the vibrancy and colour described  in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, that led to a well-deserved Oscar win for Best Achievement in Production Design.

Working on set both the team worked hard to convey the glamour of the 1920’s, a great example of their work is Gatsby’s Art Deco mansion. Striving to be authentic in their portrayal of the 20’s, they created lavishly designed interior sets that were based on the great early-20th-century houses of Long Island’s North Shore. Working on the costume and production design on nearly all of Luhrmann’s past projects, Catherine Martin his wife and head of set production is known for her award winning set designs, her double Oscar winning work on Moulin Rouge has previously been praised.

For Gatsby, she oversaw 42 individual sets that were created in and around Sydney, both on location and on sound stages. It took her team 14 weeks just to build, paint, and decorate Gatsby’s mansion, which called for a master bedroom, grand ballroom, entrance hall, library, terrace as well as a garden. Whilst the exterior shots of Gatsby’s estate used the Gothic Revival building of the former St. Patrick’s Seminary in Sydney, with grand turrets added in digitally in post production.

The Great Gatsby Movie Set Design Trend Ideas. Images courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

But the grandest creation by far is Gatsby’s vast ballroom, where he hosts his Deco extravagant parties.  Martin, referencing the production design said “the sets are central to establishing character, showing the inner world in an outer way.” This can be seen the grand ballroom’s decoration; a gold-filigreed ceiling, ornate crystal chandeliers manufactured by Schonbek with crystals supplied by Swarovski, a marquetry floor complete with his own monogram inlaid at the centre and a dramatic, flowing staircase.

It provides a grand location for his guests, but creates the notion that Gatsby and his lavish are all just for show, all done in the hope of attracting Daisy. The lavish party scenes and styled interior sets of Gatsby’s mansion in the film are steeped in over-the-top grandeur and beauty that glamorizes Gatsby’s affluent lifestyle.

Set Design. The Great Gatsby Grand Ballroom

The Great Gatsby Set Design Blog Post Ideas & Interior Decoration inspired by film.

“Confetti falls like silver rain. Champagne glasses glint in the light. Garters, teddies, and fringe shimmy everywhere. Many of the costumes come courtesy of Miu Miu and Prada, and they include swishy silk kimonos and sheer dresses whose beading looks as if it were sewn onto air.” —Village Voice.

It is clear why the work of  French Interior and furniture designer Emile Jacques Raulman was inspiration to Martin whilst styling the Art Deco sets, especially when designing the bedroom and living area in particular. They are perfect examples of the period style, from the Art deco forms to the choice of colour palette. Art Deco’s association with the machine age meant exotic materials and bold geometric shapes, relayed through the shapes, lavish ornamentation and industrial references that can be seen in the mansion, and in the Buchanan’s house.

The Great Gatsby Interior Set design by Catherine Martin

The Great Gatsby Interior Set design by Catherine Martin. Daisy Buchanan Sitting room set

The old-money vibe and 1920’s feel is created below, by the Chinoiserie silk wallpaper by DeGournay. Talking about the set design choices in the film and choice of props, “I love the clash of this slightly ugly fan, this modern industrial object, in this posh room,” Martin said referencing the design decisions chosen by her team for the set of wealthy Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom. Talking about her wallpaper choice, seen here in the background below, “I am always trying to find a way to include birds,” she continues “I love birds, flowers and chinoiserie.”


The Art Deco style rugs  for the film were designed by Catherine Martin herself before filming began. Texture was an important aspect in conveying opulence, so Martin made sure to select high quality fabrics, chosen individually for their pattern, choosing water mark silks and raised velvet prints to adorn her sets like the Black Pearl and Westchester designs from her own superb series of designs for leading Australian manufacturer Designer Rugs.


Each pays homage to the romance of ‘Art Deco’ period, whilst being made of high quality. Hand knotted from Tibetan wool and silk, the colour palette  – which includes exquisite combinations such as steel blue, amethyst and champagne, alongside dark chocolate, topaz and tobacco – are as subtle as they are sumptuous, evoking both a magical nostalgia and sophisticated modernism to the set designs in the film.


It was Martin herself,  who suggested Luhrmann include them in the Gatsby and Buchanan interiors set designs, when large-scale art deco rugs were to be sourced. “One of the joys of working with my husband is his strong visual perspective.. he’s always thinking about how to use visuals to help to tell the story.” Martin said when describing dressing the Gatsby sets.

 The Great Gatsby Design Inspiration:

The Great Gatsby’s set design has inspired a resurging interest in all things Art Deco. Taking inspiration from the film, incorporate an art deco inspired, plush carpet with gold accents or in a rich burgundy/ burnt orange shade to your room design that adds a sense of luxury and glamour to any room. Mirrored glass drawers or dark lacquered wood also give a nod to the 1920’s style, so why not add a well placed Chaise Longue or parlour chair in a statement chinoiserie fabric to add a vintage, glamorous twist to your design scheme.

Set Design: The Great Gatsby Interior Inspiration and design Ideas

The film also saw the Fitzgerald suite in New York plaza hotel redesigned by Catherine Martin using the Art Deco theme to celebrate the launch of the film, and in honour of the author of the Great Gatsby himself,  F.Scott Fitzgerald who was  one of the Plaza’s most famous patrons. She sought to create, “a suite that F. Scott Fitzgerald and his character Jay Gatsby would be at home in –  a dramatic deco space that evokes the danger, the sexiness, the glamour and a certain nostalgia for the hedonistic days of the 1920’s, while still encapsulating all the comforts expected at The Plaza.” She managed to create a dramatic art deco space, channelling the dynamism of the Jazz Age. Furnished exclusively by Restoration Hardware (RH) the suite reflected the luxury and style of the era, which  is what many believe captivated Fitzgerald and drew him to The Plaza and inspired him to include the hotel  in his famed novel.

The Fitzgerald suite in New York plaza hotel redesigned by interior set designer Catherine Martin using the Art Deco theme to celebrate the launch of the film

Every detail of the suite relates to Fitzgerald’s life and his time at The Plaza, whilst paying homage to the film adaptation. Dome ceilings surrounded by antique mirrors feature 1920’s Odeon Glass Fringe Chandeliers.  The bedspread and towels are custom embroidered with the Jay Gatsby and Daisy-inspired monogram, seen frequently throughout the film.  The walls are adorned with portraits of the 2013 film cast captured by legendary Hollywood photographer Douglas Kirkland, images of Fitzgerald and his wife, and 1920’s photos from Vogue and Vanity Fair.

The Fitzgerald suite in New York plaza hotel redesigned by interior set designer Catherine Martin using the Art Deco theme to celebrate the launch of the film

Bookshelves are filled with the author’s complete works and books that inspired the filmmaker’s throughout production, as well as classic accessories that include vintage-inspired trophy’s, cast iron Brooklyn Bridge bookends and 1920’s French glass cloches. The suite also gives guests a taste of  entertainment from the 1920’s, complete with vintage board games, including Monopoly, which originated during the era, iconic Gramophone-shaped  iPhone and iPad speakers, custom Tiffany & Co playing cards and coffee table books that invoke languorous summers on the Gold Coast or the vibrant New York of the Roaring Twenties.

The Fitzgerald suite 1 in New York plaza hotel redesigned by interior set designer Catherine Martin using the Art Deco theme to celebrate the launch of the film

Join us again next week for Part 3 of our Set Design: Interior Design Trends series. Next time, we look at how the scale and character of French Décor inspired Marks and Franz to style the bespoke, high end, lusted after set designs from the legendary Sex and the City 2 film.


Images and References:
Images: courtesy of Warner Bros Studios. The Great Gatsby Images. Accessed 15.05.15.
Architectural Digest, The Sets of the Great Gatsby by Brad Goldfarb.
Accessed 13.05.15. Accessed 14.05.15. Accessed 14.05.15.
. Accessed 14.05.15. Accessed 15.05.15. Accessed 14.05.15.
. Accessed 14.05.15. Accessed 15.05.15.
The Los Angeles Times. Accessed 15.05.15 Accessed 15.04.15.
Alexandra Spring. 2012. . Accessed 15.05.15.
Accessed 14.05.15.
APDG Australian Production Designers Guild(2013) APDG Interview: Bev Dunn & Set Decoration on ‘The Great Gatsby’. Accessed 06.03.2015.
The Plaza New York, The Fitzgerald suite. Accessed 06.03.2015.
The Rug Company (2015) Accessed 06.03.2015.



Share this Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Blogs

We place cookies on your device to help make this website better and improve your experience. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Please see our data protection policy for full details.