Making my model box

The model box first needed to replicate the Swan Theatre which we were designing for, so I used the printed copies of the ground plan and side elevation to get the measurements I needed. I then created the model box out of black mount board and UHU which I felt was quite sturdy.

I began with creating a new layer for the floor, so that the paint wouldn’t make the actual structure warp. I knew from my research that I wanted quite a neutral coloured set, and so once I had decided on the ‘illustration/graphic’ theme inspired by David Hockney, I was able to decide on the colour scheme of the set.

A large challenge for me was creating the side panels which represents the 4 rooms/ locations of the play, and is a large part in creating the ‘dolls house’ concept. I realised i needed to draw these in one-point perspective and so it took quite a few practices to get the drawings themselves right. I eventually was happy with the drawings so created the side panels, the floor and the proscenium roof area and I was happy with the way these 3 elements brought the concept together.

From here I needed to add in a few details, such as the coloured lighting in the windows, the lightbulbs which lined the proscenium arch and the stage itself to create the catwalk effect, and also furniture.

I also experimented with text and fonts for the Brechtian style sign at the top of my set. Once the lights and the furniture had been added I felt ready to present to the class.

Making a figure

This is something I hadn’t done before but I felt it was really important to learn the skills, as a figure can really help someone to understand the dimensions of a model box. Kate gave us a brief introduction to model making, with some tips on materials to use, so I decided on the method of using wire, miliput and masking tape.

I started out by measuring out the 1:25 height of a male and female, and then created the basic stick figure in wire. I added the miliput which I found to be quite dense, so I added small bits at a time so the figures weren’t too bulky.

Once the figures were in shape and hardened, I added masking tape for a rough outline of clothing, and then painted on the details.

My concept

After researching and deliberating over different styles or directions to go down, I finally settled on my ‘dolls house concept’.

  1. Graphic/Illustration

Inspired by David Hockey’s designs for A Rake’s Progress, I really wanted to have a neutral set which complimented the bold colours of the costumes. When I heard Tom Hardy’s description of the play as an ‘adult pantomime’, I was determined to have over the top, farcical costumes with exaggerated hair and makeup. This meant I needed a neutral set with pops of colour to compliment such an extreme costume design. I settled on an illustrated design to achieve this.

2. Dolls house

I came up with the idea of the play being set in a dolls house environment, to highlight their childish behaviour; they are all playing a game or each other. This would involves 4 hand-drawn rooms on side panels which would cover the balcony areas, and also a traditional proscenium style arch at the top as a roof. Each room would have a cut out in it, which would allow a particular coloured light to shine through and represent each location; green for Mrs Loveit’s house for example, as she is an envious character. I really liked the set design for Mary Poppins as an influence for this.

3. Catwalk

The stage, and its 2 extensions, would be lined with birdies or footlights in order to create a ‘catwalk’ atmosphere. This highlights the high presence of fashion within the play, as they are all trying to be the biggest socialite with the trendiest clothes. The lightbulbs also have the purpose of identifying each location also; they will light with the corresponding colour of the rooms. For example if the scene is in Mrs Loveit’s house, the room light will glow green, along with the footlights on the stage. For The Mall scene, a curtain would be drawn to cover the back half of the stage, and will show twinkling lights to represent an outdoor, nighttime space. The footlights instead of glowing a particular colour, would be flashing in different patterns to create a bold, ‘carnival-esque’ effect to show the fun element of the mall/ pleasure gardens.

4. Costumes

The costumes were my first decision, and the set led from there. Tom Hardy’s quote really inspired me to create fun and daring costumes with a huge emphasis on hair and makeup. I researched into pantomime, drag queens and caricatures to help achieve this statement look. As with the set, I wanted elements of 17th century clothing, yet with a modern twist.

Contextual Research

I wanted to look at past productions of Man of Mode to see where other designers have gone, and what approaches they may have taken. The National Theatre set in more contemporary in modern day London, which is a bold move which apparently paid off!

I was also really intrigued by Central’s production as they set it in the 80’s which meant some fabulous costume designs.


I also had a look at more traditional set design and costumes, as I definitely want some period influences within my concept, even if the whole thing isn’t completely 17th century.

Historical Research

Looking at William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress for historical references and ideas for clothing, makeup and hair. I think they are useful but not exactly what I am looking for.

Looking at the traditional theatres of the 17th century after they were brought back into society following the Restoration. It became hugely popular and there was a very big social scene at the theatre which is why plays from this era are very popular.

Something which really intrigued me from this part of my research was the introduction of the proscenium arch. They were intricately detailed and framed the performances.