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Arts & Culture

Rants and Raves: Production Designer Ken Adam

One of the drawings for Ken Adams' sets for "Dr. No."
United Artists
One of the drawings for Ken Adams' sets for "Dr. No."

Web of Stories Highlights Bond Production Designer

Web of Stories presents a series of fascinating interviews with famed production designer Ken Adam, who helped give the Bond films their distinctive style.

The finished set for "Dr. No."
United Artists
The finished set for "Dr. No."

Web of Stories presents a series of video interviews with Sir Ken Adam recorded in December 2010 and January 2011. Adam gained fame and acclaim for creating some of the most innovative and iconic sets for movies like "Dr. Strangelove" and the James Bond films. As a kid, not even knowing exactly what a production designer was, I was dazzled enough by the look of the Bond films to want to inquire about the creative people at work on the films. This included sound designers, composers, and the production designer. The Bond films captured my imagination and helped me develop an appreciation for the behind-the-scenes talent that goes into making a movie.

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Here's a scene that benefits from Adam'a set design in "Dr. No."

The production design of Ken Adam - Dr. No's lair

And of course the magnificent war room in "Dr. Strangelove."

Dr. Strangelove (1964) - War Room Scene

Adam's career spans 75 films and his accolades include a Lifetime Achievement Award, two BAFTAs, two Academy Awards, and in 2003 the honour of being knighted by the Queen for his services to the film industry. In discussing his early work on the Bond movies, Adam states: “When, six weeks later, the unit and everybody came, I had three large stages at Pinewood filled with sets, which nobody else had seen, not even a sketch, and I thought, either I’m going to get fired or maybe I’m going to be a hero."

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Here's one of the interview clips from Web of Stories where he discusses the set for "Dr. No."

There are many more interview clips of Adam on the Web of Stories site. According to the press release: "Approximately six hours of footage has been divided into individual stories which viewers can watch, listen to, comment on, and share with their friends and colleagues."

Web of Stories describes itself as having started as "an archive of life stories told by some of the great scientists of our time. As the number of stories grew, it became obvious that some were on related topics and a web was slowly being created of connected stories. After a while we also invited famous people outside the field of science to tell their life stories. Web of Stories is also open to the public to record their stories for the world to view and share."

I hope you will enjoy revisiting some of the films from Adam's career. This is truly a wonderful archive.