Collaborative Set Design

Set design is the creation of a bridge between the performers and the physical environment through the background context that the viewers can relate to. Set designs can be seen at a theatre, music performance, award show, movie, or fashion show. It is a versatile field that combines art, architecture, interior design and psychology. It deals with the creation of physical spaces which evoke the feeling of the context of the act to viewers more seamlessly.

A Set Designer is a person who deals with the task of set designing. The main objective that they work for is the creation of an immersive environment for transitioning the viewers to the imaginative World. Their work requires close collaboration with the Director’s vision for the film and aims to recreate that vision in the best way possible. They also interpret the script to create the design based on the context. Their work also includes the creation of sketches, miniature models and blueprints of the sets as well as selecting and sourcing construction materials.

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Set Design Sketch_©Harlan D. Penn

Collaborative Work of Set Designers

After finishing the plans, the set designer supervises the set’s construction, working with a team of Carpenters, painters, and other technicians from many professions to make it a reality. Their involvement is also in the selection and placement of props, furniture and other set pieces down to the minute details. The crucial part of the creation is the environment that revolves around lightning which composes the overall atmosphere and the mood of the scene. Throughout the production of the set, they are free to make any adjustments and add additional features which may address the technical issues.

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Parasite Set Scene_©Allstar

The Collaboration of the Set Designers with various technicians may differ as follows:

  • Directors: They work with the Set Designers in helping in achieving the vision of the scene they have in their mind to bring it to reality.
  • Producers: Producers are the main drivers of their production and collaborate with the set designers to create the overall production vision of the variety of sets.
  • Lightning Designers: Lightning is a dominant aspect in creating the atmosphere for a realistic environment, achievable through collaboration between them and Set Designers.
  • Costume Designers: The vision of the scene should be such that each detail of the scene is like the costumes worn by the Performers.
  • Carpenters: They are the building block of the set, their knowledge and details and collaboration with the set designers, help in achieving the scalable structures of the set.


The work of the set designer is crucial as it requires involvement in collaboration and communication with various technicians. In a broader sense, their role is a junction between a variety of technicians. Their job not only helps to reduce disagreements among other technicians but it also ensures the consistency of the work.

Parallel with Architects

An Architect is a person who is involved with the designing and planning of spaces for the users to fulfil their needs and make the space pleasing for them. They are also involved with the process of strategic planning of the workflow of the construction process until its completion. By knowing this, One can draw out that workflow and the job description of an architect are similar to a Set Designer in almost every aspect.

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Dio Giovanni by Frank Gehry and _©Ricardo DeAratanha

The Set Designers have a typical workflow of understanding the needs of the script, setting, or the director and then creating a design out of it. Later, they collaborate with various technicians from other fields to bring their designs to life. This workflow is quite similar to that of an architect, who understands the needs of clients, collaborates with a range of professionals, and brings their concepts to life. Concerning the field, Architecture and Set Designing pose a lot of similar elements that open the scope up for architects to take up the profession of set designing too.

Great Set Designs 

GIGI by Derek McLane

It was one of the musical presentations by Lerner & Loewe and designed by Derek McLane. The Set was executed at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and Neil Simon Theatre in New York City, and screened to the audience in 2015.

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GIGI Musical_©Derek McLane

Movie Parasite by Lee Ha-jun

Parasite was the first foreign film to win Best Picture at the Oscars 2020. The Architecture of the set designs played a predominant role in this win, where Lee ha Jun talked to about 80 architects regarding the set.

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Behind the Scene from Parasite Scene_©Allstar

Oscars Set 2021 by David Rockwell

David Rockwell is one of the most influential personalities in scenic design. His recent work for Oscar 2021 took inspiration from the early 1930s glamour of Hollywood.

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Oscars 2021_©David Rockwell

Squid Game by Hwang Dong-Hyuk

One of the most-watched series on Netflix is  “The Squid Game“. The various sets of the whole series were carefully crafted by the efforts of the Director and the art director that made the set a reality. The Set Posed to evoke emotions and instinct within the Actors naturally.

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One of the Sets of Squid game_©Netflix

The Weeknd – Legend of the Fall Tour 2017 by Es Devlin

Es Devlin has been active in scenic design for more than 20 years, She’s been commissioned for various Stage Designs for Musical Festivals, Exhibitions and Fashion Shows.

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Weeknd Tour Stage_©Es Devlin

Still Life by Emma Roach

Emma Roach has been one of the most influential in the Fashion World Set designs. She has been commissioned numerously by top internal brands and private clients for setting up Runways Shows to Photoshoot Backgrounds.

Still Life_Emma Roach

In conclusion, Set designing is an influential profession as Designers act as bridges in creating the reality envisioned. The efforts put up by them help in the transcendence of the viewers into the World that they design. Also, they are the meeting point of all technicians through their collaboration and communication. This collective endeavour is a tangible building block of each scene they create.


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  5. Englefield, J. (2021). David Rockwell’s ‘intimate and grand’ Oscars set recalls glamour of early ceremonies. [online] Dezeen. Available at: [Accessed 26 Jun. 2023].
  6. Es Devlin. (2017). The Weeknd – Arena Tour. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jul. 2023].
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Abhist is a unique individual who believes in “Living Life in the Moment” Apart from his passion for Architecture, he spent most of his time Ridiculously watching Anime and listening to EDM Music.