On Set Interiors Inspiration: Set Design from 'The Vow'

If you're looking for true love, you couldn't do better than Leo, the character played by Channing Tatum in The Vow, directed by Michael Sucsy, which opened this past weekend. When Leo's wife Paige (a luminous Rachel MacAdams) loses her memory of their life together due to an injury sustained in a car accident, he re-woes her. I got a chance to talk to production designer Kalina Ivanov who shared how the interior sets work to support the story.

Kalina, whose work was also seen in The Conspirator, Little Miss Sunshine and Maid of Honor and who won an Emmy for her designs for the HBO movie, Grey Gardens, brought to life the entire visual world of the film. While the movie is set in Chicago, the interior scenes were actually shot in Toronto. These spaces, in all of their minute and exacting detail, were entirely designed, created, built and dressed from raw, unfinished space. It is Kalina's attention to nuance that brings these spaces to life and everything, from cups to finishes, brings a depth and rich history to the characters and the story.

  • Loft living room, bachelor-style: When Leo and Paige first meet, Leo's living and working out of a loft in Bucktown, on Chicago's north side, that he shares with his musician roommates. Along with the expected bachelor chaos that comes from four twentysomething guys living together -- note the big old-skool tv that dominates the living room area -- the space reflects their interests with its plethora of instruments and recording equipment.
  • Loft living room, couple-style: The same living room after Paige moves in. Her presence adds color, order and calm to the loft and to Leo's life and the loft reflects their more grown-up life. Kalina designed the bookshelves and the dining room table.
  • Paige and Leo's bedroom: Love the hoop skirt fixture over the bathtub! Although created by one of the people on Kalina's team, it's exactly the kind of item that would have been DIY'd by a sculptor whose initial figures are of women tossing off their golden corsets.
  • Paige and Leo's bedrooom: The colorful space is an accurate reflection of their bohemian and creative life. Kalina designed the bookshelves and the headboard. The bed's Suzani coverlet was actually the inspiration for the entire movie with its exuberant pattern and interplay of red and green, passion and nature.
  • The loft's kitchen: Along with director Michael Sucsy, Kalina created a backstory for the space to ground it in a sense of history, coming up with the idea that it had a former life as The Wrigley Gum factory. Details like the clock in the kitchen reflect the space's previous incarnation while the choice of materials what Paige and Leo would be able to afford.
  • Paige's studio: Paige is a sculptor who's well on her way to success; her work has been selected, via a fierce competiion, for display in the lobby of a prominent downtown Chicago building. Her studio has the homey clutter of a busy in-demand artist. The sketches on the wall are Kalina's actual sketches for Paige's sculptures, which she also designed.
  • Paige's childhood home, living room: Paige's Waspy parents, the Thortons, live in a exclusive suburb of Chicago and their home reflects their status and material success. The white molding gives the living room sophistication.
  • Paige's childhood home, dining room: A key scene in the movie takes place in the Thorton's dining room. Wallpaper with a hunting scene is not only a nod to the Thorton's background but to the tension around the dinner table.
  • Paige's home, single girl style: Paige moves back into the city and into her own space. Her new home, creative with color and pattern, reflects the eclecticism of a woman who is discovering herself as a person and an artist. Her new sculptures, which have morphed from women as trees to women melded with sand and waves to women dancing, are visual metaphors for the evolution she's achieved throughout the course of the movie.

Images: Kalina Ivanov, used with her permission. For more of Kalina's work, click here.

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