Movie –Barbie is this summer’s most talked-about production. The film can be read on many levels. Indeed, it is filled with a thousand references and details that can intrigue even the most Barbie agnostics, from Old Hollywood Technicolor musicals to architecture, from the history of fashion to the memories of many generations of kids. Director Greta Gerwig has been extremely careful to create the ultra-pink fantasy world of the iconic heroine.
Barbie Land is a perfect, woman-led world, a utopia where girls can have infinite fun, and Kens are just Kens. Everything is clean, in order, and most likely pink. In order to recall the real dollhouses kids have been physically playing with for decades, production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer decided to rely primarily on physical sets built at the Warner Bros Studios in London rather than CGI. From the interiors to the hand-painted backgrounds, “everything needed to be tactile because toys are, above all, things you touch.”
Barbie’s home is a take on the Barbie Dreamhouse from the ‘60s, a three-storey villa with no external walls and a spiral pink slide on the side leading from the bedroom to a flat blue toy pool with no water. Greenwood and Spencer took inspiration from the iconic Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra as well as other mid-century modern penthouses in Palm Springs.
Like the real dollhouses, the homes in the movie are out of proportion. Indeed, everything in Barbie Land was made to be 23% smaller in relation to the human actors to mimic the way in which a real-life Barbie doll is always much bigger than her house. “The ceiling is actually quite close to one’s head, and it only takes a few paces to cross the room. It has the odd effect of making the actors seem big in the space but small overall.”
Other objects, like hair and toothbrushes or lipsticks, are oversized like real toy accessories, so kids won’t lose or eat them. The homes also feature a mix of real, 3D items and 2D decals as actual dream houses do. The interiors – which include Philippe Starck’s lounge chairs, trompe l’oeil Tiffany lamps, and a heart-shaped bed dressed in a sequined coverlet – are Total Pink.
Clothes, furniture, fashion accessories, home complements, and hand-painted walls. The fluorescent pink shade is everywhere. “The world ran out of pink,” said Greenwood. Indeed, the movie required such vast amounts of shock pink shade that it used up one company’s entire global supply. “They used as much paint as we had,” Lauren Proud, vice president of global marketing at US manufacturer Rosco, said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times.
All images are courtesy of Warner Bros unless stated otherwise.