Here's how décor designers create special historical sets that support the script

Image: 123RF/Sergei Primakov.

Décor designers, or set designers as they are also known, are artists who design the décor or sets for theatrical performances, television programmes, films and corporate launches.

Usually a set has to be designed to meet certain specifications. When asked to create special historical or visual effects to support the script, they need to use their imagination and all their skills.

They develop, with the aid of a computer or by hand, sketches of several concepts which they then present to the producer of the play, film or television production.

Research sometimes needs to be conducted to create a set that will interpret the story in a visual form and to establish the appropriate architectural elements. Changes often have to be made until the producer and designer are satisfied with the design or designs.

Décor designers normally have to work to specific deadlines and often confer with producers and other production staff such as props and costume designers, to coordinate style, colour combination and the general visual effect.

Thus, a décor designer interprets the story, drama or play and translates it into visual form, conducting research where necessary. Ideas are then transferred into practical working drawings.

Approved designs are then finalised and dates confirmed as to when the décor needs to be completely finished. The décor is then built and painted.

Getting started

  • Get involved in school plays and become computer-literate
  • Attend theatre productions and study the sets
  • Try to obtain vacation work in a theatre company as an assistant to a décor / set designer
  • Make an appointment to speak to a décor / set designer about this type of career

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