I’ve harboured a love of films directed by Wes Anderson for a long time. They are perfectly quirky, whimsical, comical, and filled to the brim with endearing characters. They are often melancholy and awkward, yet they are always unique and beautiful. It’s definitely a bonus that most of Anderson’s films are brought to life by a shortlist of talented actors including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody. Perfection!
What I love most about Wes Anderson’s films is the level of attention paid to overall visual design. Every detail (including colour palettes, use of light, architecture, costuming, set design, typography, printed ephemera and the composition of every single frame) is carefully considered, to the point where the overall design becomes a character in and of itself. The most recent Anderson film, The Grant Budapest Hotel, was no exception. I was completely enraptured and delightfully immersed in the world that Wes Anderson created, and was sad to leave when it was over. It was visually stunning – from the decadently pink Grand Budapest hotel itself down to the last postage stamp affixed to a brown paper parcel, everything was expertly crafted to bring the fictional country of Zubrowka to life.
Enter Annie Atkins, graphic designer for film extraordinaire. She worked very closely with Wes Anderson and production designer Adam Stockhausen to create most of the props for the film including newspapers, handwritten letters, packaging for the fictional patisserie Mendl’s, lobby signage, hotel keys, telegrams, postage stamps, currency paper bills and coins, police reports, wills and testaments, and perfume bottle branding, to name a few. Most were made by hand to ensure that they accurately represented similar items from the two different time periods represented in the film – the 1930’s and the 1960’s. The level of detail is astounding!
As per usual, the set design was also spot on, using different colour palettes to represent different time periods. Blush pink, ruby red and royal purple were the dominant colours for the 1930’s, which transitioned into mustard, olive green and orange in the 1960’s. My eyes couldn’t get enough! Wes Anderson’s films are often bright and saturated with cheerful colours and jewel tones, which is yet another reason why I love them. They are such a great way to get inspired.
I could keep going all day! Seriously, get your butts to the movie theater to see this one. For a few more behind-the-scenes design articles on this movie, check out the links below!