The “Barbie” Movie Created an “International Shortage” of Pink Paint

published Jun 5, 2023
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colorful living room with some pink walls, some white, pink front door, blue velvet sofa with colorful throw pillows, arched deco mirrors, lots of colorful framed wall art

Ahead of the release of this summer’s highly-anticipated “Barbie” movie, the team who helped bring Barbie’s whimsical pink fantasy world to life gave some behind-the-scenes intel to Architectural Digest. Turns out, transforming the iconic Barbie Dreamhouse into a real-life playground for the stars of the film was no easy feat, with the set designers even creating a worldwide shortage of pink paint in the process.

Director Greta Gerwig tapped London-based design team Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer to bring Barbie’s world to the big screen, with the pair doing some heavy-hitting research for the project. Neither Greenwood nor Spencer had ever owned Barbies before, so they started by ordering a Barbie Dreamhouse from Amazon to study.

“The scale was quite strange,” said Spencer, the film’s set decorator, explaining the proportional adjustments needed to make it life-sized. Gerwig added: “The ceiling is actually quite close to one’s head, and it only takes a few paces to cross the room. It has the odd effect of making the actors seem big in the space but small overall.”

Taking inspiration from Palm Springs mid-century modernism, the trio added iconic touches like the roof’s pool slide, the trusty elevator, and Barbie’s massive walk-in closet. But creating a fuschia fantasy requires a lot of pink paint, with Greenwood, the film’s production designer, joking that there was an international shortage of Rosco’s pink fluorescent paint as a result of the film. “The world ran out of pink,” she told AD with a laugh.

Creating a vibrant pink fantasyland was important to Gerwig. “Maintaining the ‘kid-ness’ was paramount. I wanted the pinks to be very bright, and everything to be almost too much.”

Of course, you can bring Barbie’s signature hue into your own space without painting your walls fuschia. Paula Taylor, head stylist at Graham & Brown recommends painting walls a shade of green ranging from sage to deep forest, adding hot pink or fuschia touches by way of pillows, wall art, or any accessories of your choosing to bring Barbiecore decor in without overwhelming anyone you live with. You can even opt for lighter shades of pink for a playful touch that isn’t too bright.

And if you want more inspiration, you won’t have to wait too long, as the “Barbie” movie hits theaters next month.