We’ve got two very different shows up for Emmys this season (which is AMAZING) and I thought it'd be fun to share some of my biggest design takeaways from each show. We designed Bill Nye Saves The World from the ground up and I, joyfully, had to start from scratch to create that world. The Voice, on the other hand, is going into Season 13 and, yet, continues to evolve and update its iconic look. Two VERY different designs - creating each yielded some unique design wisdom I’m excited to share with you and carry on to my future projects.
BILL NYE SAVES THE WORLD
You can use two completely different color palettes together - There’s definitely no rulebook stating you have to stick to just one color palette! Color can absolutely be used as a tool to create a contrast between two different concepts/ideas, and that’s exactly what we did for Bill Nye Saves The World. We wanted to appreciate both old world academia as well as forward-thinking technology, so we chose two color palettes and created a defined contrast between the two. Functionally this meant creating an outer, academic library that enclosed a modern, technologically advanced inner laboratory.
The first (outer) color palette is warm and architectural - classic academia. We used two kinds of wood (raw pine and stained oak) to make it look and feel truly organic. Everything leans a little warm, from the red brick to the stain of the wood - even the weathered grunge patina of the subway tile is warm. We wanted to use honest, relatable materials you would see walking the streets or inside a building. By contrast, the glossy, plastic and plexiglass laboratory in the center of the set features a different color palette altogether. Here, we went for a sterile, white aesthetic, complimented by vibrant artificial color from LED lights.
Embrace LED Lighting (including LED tape!) - I used LED lighting as the bridge between both laboratory and academia in our set. A big part of the design process was taking into account how we need to positively think about the future and use science to enhance our lives. This meant really embracing LED lighting from a conservation standpoint and as an aesthetic. In just the last 10 years, LED technology has completely transformed almost every environment you go in - you can put light in ANYTHING now, and LED tape is especially incredible for this reason.
We used orange LED tape as the through-line between the traditional library enclosure of the set and the central laboratory. You can see it running horizontally through the architectural belt in the middle of the library, as well as the thin orange line running through the walls of the lab. Elsewhere in the laboratory, LED lighting gave us the brilliant pinks and purples (from the ceiling and under the floor) that you wouldn’t normally see in an organic, incandescent space.
THE VOICE - Rehearsal Room, Season 12
Identify the most essential elements you need - don’t over-complicate! - When we reimagined the live rehearsal space for Season 12 of The Voice, our goal was to recreate a classic recording studio space. We identified the most quintessential elements of a recording studio and pushed them to the forefront. When we boiled it all down, we realized it’s really just speakers above the windows, carpets, sound padding on the walls, and gear everywhere. That’s everything we included. Speakers are a color, wood is a color, and carpets can have a certain color too. We didn’t over-complicate it, and I think we captured the recording studio vibe remarkably well.
It’s easy to build natural and authentic - We wanted the space to feel like an ACTUAL recording studio - a complete environment - even if it wasn’t a technically functional space. We did a few really simple things to achieve a real sense of authenticity, namely, creating windows that you could shoot through up against a mixing board (as if looking in from a control room) and moving the artist entrance door to a location that wasn’t so camera-friendly (less staged, more believable).
Wood panelling works wonders - When we did our initial research for this space, we drew inspiration from classic Los Angeles recording studios like EastWest and Conway. The major trend we noticed in these spaces was the proliferation of gorgeous, natural wood panelling. We knew our space had to have that, so we stained wood veneer in two different stains - a blonde and a shade darker - and we just mixed them in. Do not hesitate to stain wood veneer if the project calls for it - it goes a lonnnng way.