The Bordello set was one of my favourite sets. As a production designer you dream about special sets- sets that can represent your vision not only of a certain place/era but as an artist.
As a set decorator I speak and create through things, through props, through stuff.
Beautiful stuff, ugly stuff, crazy stuff. And sometimes you get to design things and follow your first impression - It was actually the first two design ideas I got while reading this script - The Cunnilingus neon light and Penis lamps.
This blunt and direct, very humorous way of showing something intimate and sacred was really the best way for me to balance the romantic setting and the modern elements.
Classical beauty meets kitch. It is also how I work best - I love contradiction.
Bas Bonhof assisted me on the set and together we set dressed this huge location on a high speed mode. Samuel van Broekhoven, my partner and the other production designer of this film, was there to of course!
We were so limited in time, because we were shooting there immediately after "The Devils Mansion" set so it was the most challenging week for us because the amount of props and the fact that those are historical buildings ( we had to be extra careful due the delicate nature of the location ) made it pretty intense. All that completed by the fact that those were night shootings- so in the day we would pack up go to the other location, start to set dress and by night shoot another scene at another location.
I think we did pretty ok and learned so much from this experience.
I also asked Samuel to use the lace I bought for the occasion and change the ugly fabric in the folding screens.
When the location was ready to shoot , we realised that its to big, we don't have enough stuff. Bas was speaking before that about maybe using some ivy for the interior to "kill" the huge amount of space we had left.
I asked him to get cherry blossom branches from the forest nearby if there were still some, instead of the ivy. It worked perfectly - the whole dreamy,1930 Hollywood vibe came to life because of those flowers. If Bas did not propose the ivy I would have never thought of cherry blossoms. And that is such a beautiful thing to feel when you are working with a great team.
We had many artisanal things - the cigarettes for example were designed especially for the male character by Nordin Royackers ( as they play an important part in The Space scene ) and The tea set was designed by me and Julia Derevianko, my old friend who lives in Odessa and hand painted them one by one and had the idea to use black paint dots for the background.
And she also made the sperm light caps ( I saw her with a cup she made with cutout sperm in it and asked if she could make some light caps for the lamps I designed ) . Alice Vandeputte created the penises for the lamps and many other props for this crazy film. And in general the idea was to make as much by hand as possible especially for the crucial scenes.
We chose really with our hearts each and every prop because this was a dream scenario. A bordello where the prostitutes are famous female characters from the world literature masterpieces like Isolde, Flappers, Beatrice,....- Its a dream come true!