How the Production Designer of HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Gets It to Look Just Right

Production Design Silicon Valley HBO
Courtesy of HBO

If you’re designing for a TV show watched by an assortment of nerds and geeks, you’d better get it right. So says Richard Toyon, production designer on HBO’s tech startup sitcom “Silicon Valley,” which just began its second season.

“We create everything to be as real as possible,” he says, “especially knowing a lot of the viewers are very tech-savvy, and they’re going to be stopping their DVRs and reading what’s on the Post-It notes, or on the computer screens — and analyzing the algorithms we talk about. All the stuff has to be exact.”

As part of his research, Toyon visits the Reddit website, and reads commentaries devoted to Northern California’s tech culture. “I love to know what they’re talking about,” he says. “It helps bring truth to what we’re portraying.”

This visual precision extends to the locations. Although the show is shot in Southern California, producers scout office campuses that resemble those in Palo Alto. Toyon and his crew also use tricks to make the dry environment look like the lusher north. “We dress the set,” Toyon explains. “I have my greensmen spray the foliage so it feels like it just rained.”

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