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Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” features a billionaire character, Miles Bron, who owns a private island in Greece.

Bron, played by Edward Norton, invites his circle of friends, an all-star cast that includes Kate Hudson, Janelle Monáe and Leslie Odom Jr., to join him for a murder-mystery weekend.

Everything about Miles screams extravagance and power. With that, it was up to the production designer Rick Heinrichs to build the perfect home.

That meant a giant mansion topped with a glass onion. Inside, an atrium resembles a museum filled with Banksy, Kandinsky and the Mona Lisa.

When it came to designing the onion, Heinrichs says, ”I did an early rendering in a photograph of the villa, and I placed it on top. I kept working and I finally decided I was going to grab an onion and I started to slice it up.”

As Heinrichs peeled the real onion, he noticed the layers “and the sculptural quality was amazing to explore and understand as I was slicing into it, and I had to get into that.”

Rick Heinrich’s concept art for the Glass Onion

Once Heinrichs had carved his onion conceptually, he says his challenge was how to build it. “You’re trying to turn structural materials into a compound shape. It would have been ridiculously expensive to attempt to do compound curves on the glass,” he says. “But while it would have been expensive to add in compound curves, it would have also felt less architectural.”

In building the glass onion, he used detailed drawings of the various layers that started from the core and spread outward to the walls along with 3D renderings that he referred to. Heinrichs says, “We pre-built it
with plywood for the glass and it looked like a giant packing crate. That was done in the U.K. and we had to disassemble it and truck it to Serbia.”

The plywood was then sent to a glass company and cut to the exact shape. Everything got repackaged and delivered to the Belgrade stage.

The idea was that Bron was someone “who wanted people to know he was powerful, he had great taste and was a disruptor,” Heinrichs says.