The second season of “Russian Doll” sees Nadia (Natasha Lyonne, who also serves as the show’s co-creator and showrunner) stepping back in time to the 1980s via a subway car. As posters of “Cats” and film “Sophie’s Choice” appear, Nadia glimpses a newspaper. The year is 1982.
Not only does Nadia time travel, but she also finds herself in the body of her pregnant mother, Lenora, aka Nora, played by Chloë Sevigny.
Diane Lederman stepped in as production designer, taking over from Michael Bricker, to build the ’80s world, including Lenora’s pink apartment.
Lederman was inspired by a 1986 film directed by David Lynch. “The look of Season 2 is influenced by many films and auteurs of ’70s and ’80s cinema, David Lynch being an important one,” she says. “While searching for a hook for this set, I happened to rewatch ‘Blue Velvet.’ That apartment in that film is iconically 1980s, without being overly kitsch, a perfect reference for our period styling.”
In love with the deeply rich and dark colors, Lederman found a deep green, “almost black,” for the doors and moldings that completed the vintage look. “We added some over-the-top ’80s decor, such as the white dolphin figure, the black lacquer and glass-top coffee table and the brass fan over the bed, to support the idea that Nora spends money frivolously.”
With Nora’s home filled with clutter, Lederman also filled it with whimsical items to visualize Lenora’s erratic behavior and to show the impracticality of the dreamer she is. “This apartment represented a better life to Nora, one beyond her mother’s reach. Of course, the irony is that her mother was paying the bills.”
Within the apartment, the pink and black tile bathroom was Lederman’s favorite set to design. And in the first episode in which Nadia and Lenora interact, Lederman found a way to build a double set so that Sevigny and Lyonne didn’t only rely on visual effects.
“We built a double set, a mirror image of each other, a hole where the mirror ought to go,” she says. “Each element was a customized mirrored duplicate of the other, including the designed art poster, which was printed backward for the mirrored side of the set. When Nadia sees herself as her mom, Natasha stands on one side, and Chloë on the other.
When Nadia sees herself as herself, a mirror is placed over the hole between the two sets. It was a great trick and so much fun to design.”
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