“Dickinson” is not a museum show according to its production designer Neil Patel. During a sit-down video interview for Variety Artisans presented by HBO, he explained how the crew constructed a…
“Dickinson” is not a museum show according to its production designer Neil Patel. During a sit-down video interview for Variety Artisans presented by HBO, he explained how the crew constructed a 19th century world fit for modern-day audiences.
“The main thing is trying to be true to the period, but make it appealing to the contemporary eye,” he said. “It’s really about picking the right period details and the ones that feel really connected to the look of the show.”
Mastering the look of The Evergreens manor was essential because it was the center of social and cultural activities. Though the interior was originally supposed to be red, Patel brought depth into the home by using a blue, green and gold color palette. To finish, patterned wallpaper and Hudson River School paintings line the rooms.
“What was really important about Evergreens is that it is very different from Homestead,” Patel said. “Evergreens is described architecturally as a Victorian Italianate villa, so it’s asymmetrical, serpentine, luxurious and mysterious.”
“Dickinson” also brings to life the water cure treatments that were popular at the time, which involved developing a whole other set. The idea was to make it akin to a luxury retreat.
“All these period things have a contemporary version,” Patel said.
“We looked at a lot of the Gold Coast mansions from the beginning of the last century in Long Island,” he added when discussing his inspiration. “The one we ended up using had a luxurious scale, but also an austerity to it, a lot of stone walls. I felt it was an appropriate place where we could put in spritz tubs and the dunking tanks and the steam bath.”
Watch the full video above.