A tea party with a menagerie of dogs, cockatoos and ponies is all in a day’s work for Rhea Thierstein. The talented set designer works on creating fantastical worlds, often alongside photographer Tim Walker. She tells us about life on set, and the Mulberry Spring Summer 2014 campaign.
Describe the atmosphere on set for the Mulberry SS14 campaign shoot.
The atmosphere was really upbeat and exciting. The beginning was a little tricky wrangling all of the animals and getting the shot with all the elements in place all at the same time, but Tim soon figured out how best to do it. It was definitely one of my favourite shoots to work on.
How did you source the props and materials used for the campaign?
They came from all over the place! We discovered a country rose company in Essex who supply garden-grown roses – these were perfect for the story of a summer gazebo / country garden feel. The furniture and props came from prop houses and the table and trellised walls were built by Andy Knight’s, the set builders.
How did you work to portray Mulberry’s inherent Englishness through the set design?
It had to feel real, beautiful and British with a twist of humour to it. The design was a collaboration between Tim Walker, House and Holme and myself.
How did you get into set design?
I fell in to it! I worked for Shona Heath for a few years and learnt everything from her. I didn’t know the industry existed until leaving university. It wasn’t something I saw myself doing as working for the best you see how difficult it can be and you assume you can never do what they do. When I left Shona, Tim asked me to make some hats and props for a Monty Python shoot for Vanity Fair and the rest is history! It’s been a real whirlwind! I think set design found me.
What have been your highlights so far?
There’s been a lot! My Selfridges window was amazing, working with Tim Walker is great. The Kate Moss story we did together was really special. And the Mulberry Spring Summer 2014 campaign is definitely one of my favourites too.
What is it like working with photographer Tim Walker?
Amazing. I’m very lucky to be able to work with Tim. I love the collaborations we do and the magic that happens on set.
And you worked with Tim on his debut film The Lost Explorer…
It was really incredible. Again, I was very lucky to be a part of it. Shona Heath was the Production Designer and I helped oversee the art department side of things. It was a real learning curve as moving image is a very different environment to fashion photography and the creative process is also very different.
What are your plans for 2014?
Who knows! That’s what I love about the job – anything can happen and pretty quickly!