Salon 03: Sneak Preview

March 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

Salon 03 Sketches

Salon 02: Sneak Preview

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Salon 02 - Structure

Experimental Axon



Salon 02 - Atmosphere

Salon 01: Aesthetics

February 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Film

The 1985 film took the Oscar for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, and it’s not hard to see why! Here are some views of the drawing room at the pension:

Drawing Room - Lucy plays Beethoven

Drawing Room - Mr. Beebe listens

Drawing Room - Charlotte enters

Drawing Room - Bickering

Drawing Room - Mr. Beebe

The drawing room design likely took its cue from this description:

And even more curious was the drawing-room, which attempted to rival the solid comfort of a Bloomsbury boarding-house. Was this really Italy?

Miss Bartlett was already seated on a tightly stuffed armchair, which had the colour and the contours of a tomato. (7)


As beautiful as the film sets are, I’m not looking to recreate 1908. The play of light and shadow in the first two stills above would work well in a translational sense (the contrast between the two having a symbolic role in the novel), but the agoraphobic nature of Victorian interiors doesn’t speak to contemporary preferences. Playing off the novel’s structural contrast, as well as my own inclinations, I plan to blend traditional and contemporary aesthetics:

Aesthetics - Inspiration

Inspiration from existing interiors

Inspiration Collage

Initial inspiration collage from August

Salon 01: This is an adaptation

February 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Title Page”

In Merchant Ivory’s film, an illustrated series of grotesques openly addresses the fact that the film is a literary adaptation. These grotesques are used to list the cast of characters, as well as to divide the film into “chapters.” (Read more about them in Filming Forster: The Challenges in Adapting E. M. Forster’s Novels for the Screen, available here.)

Chapter Title

Taking inspiration from the film’s approach, I sketched an idea for an interior “title page” that would embrace the fact that the space is a translation. The main point of entry to the fourth floor (on which the pensione is located) is an elevator tucked away in its own abbreviated corridor. So a guest’s first look at the pensione will be framed by the opening doors of the elevator…

Point of Entry - Plan

Point of Entry - Elevator Opens

After exiting the elevator, the guest will enter the “title page” before crossing a defined threshold into the translated space.

Point of Entry - Title Page

Point of Entry - Title Page Alternates

How stark the contrast between the two spaces will be is yet to be determined, but here is a look at creating stark contrast through color:

Defining volumes with color

But what about reception?

Typically, reception is immediately visible when a guest enters a hotel. The above scenario clearly bucks this tradition. How much of a problem is that? Is it a problem at all?

First things first: the location of the main (only) elevator simply precludes placing reception at the point of entry. Relocating the point of entry would require intruding on the spaces below, including the historic event spaces of the Palazzo Gianfigliazzi Bonaparte-something I am loath to do, despite the fictional nature of the project!

Secondly: The flow of the novel is that of a traditional comedy… confusion, even greater confusion, revelation. (Or muddle, if you will.) Now, confusion is not exactly what you want your guests to experience when they are trying to check in. Is it possible, though, to achieve an acceptable hesitancy by delaying access to reception, while also guiding visitors to reception via a path that does not allow for deviation?

Just for fun

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