The gorgeous and unique design of Weird Barbie’s house is one of the movie “Barbie“‘s most notable features that caught everyone’s attention. With a complete creative license to create the universe of Barbie, production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer eagerly accepted the challenge. In this essay, we examine the design inspiration and thought process behind Weird Barbie’s home, the process of creating Barbie’s Dreamhouse, and the creative cinematic references incorporated throughout the set. So,How did the production designer approach the design of Weird Barbie’s house in the movie “Barbie”?
The Freedom to Create Barbie’s World: According to Greenwood, Greta Gerwig, and Mattel, producers Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley allowed them complete creative freedom to create Barbie’s world. They had to figure out how to bring the universe of this well-known character to life, which was both exhilarating and intimidating.
Barbie’s Dreamhouse: The team intended to improve Barbie’s Dreamhouse’s appearance rather than simply copy the original Mattel Dreamhouse. The previous 60 years’ worth of Dreamhouses were examined, together with the specifications of the screenplay and Mattel’s “toyetics” theory. The doll within the house appeared larger than it should have, so they downsized everything by 23% to make the space feel more coherent and whimsical.
How did the inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” influence the design of Weird Barbie’s house?
Weird Barbie’s home is decorated in a bizarre mid-century modern style, although it was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s famous movie “Psycho.” The door’s crooked stairs added a hint of unsettling nostalgia. To give the house its unique character, Greenwood and Spencer purposefully pulled components out of alignment and into the wrong positions.
Wonderful Details in Weird Barbie’s Home: It is simply amazing how much detail went into Weird Barbie’s home. The house has a swimming pool with a shark painted on the bottom, however it is not visible in the film, which gives the design a whimsical touch. To add to the absurdity of the tableau, they even included a 4 ft. 6″ cutout of Weird Barbie’s cat staring at the shark.
Strange: The Inspiration for The Ambulance Another original feature was Barbie’s ambulance, which drew inspiration from The Creepy Coupe and the “Wacky Races”. This car perfectly captures the quirky, amusing nature of the persona.
Puns & Allusions to Classic Films: The design team used several puns and allusions to well-known movies throughout the creation of the sets. The cul-de-sac in Barbie land was constructed to enable the cast and crew to stroll along a pink brick path inspired by “The Wizard of Oz,” giving an additional sense of whimsy to the setting. They also gave the novels in the movie new names, giving them clever names like “Barbie Karenina,” “Barbie in the Willows,” and “Moby Barbie.”
Barbie’s World construction challenges included the need for the crew to take into account every last detail because many homes had minimal walls. They had to be informed of what was happening in each home and make sure nothing was hidden. They succeeded in creating a seamless environment that is visually gorgeous despite the complexity.
Gerwig’s passion of musicals was evident during the dance sequence “I’m Just Ken,” which was inspired by music. Greenwood recommended that they draw inspiration from “Grease” and the T-Birds’ transformation scene in “Greased Lightning.” They constructed a blank stage, painted it pink and blue, and produced a striking dream scene.
The Art Department’s Bold Pink Use: The art department thoroughly embraced the Barbie style with an astonishing selection of 12 primary tones of pink and over 100 other shades. To contrast with the serene Barbieland, Ken’s takeover included white, black, and chrome, adding a hint of “ugly”.
The makers of “Barbie” were successful in creating a visually stunning and imaginative universe that honors the history of the legendary doll. The set design turned into a key character in the film, from Weird Barbie’s house that was modeled after “Psycho” to the smart references to older movies. The world of Barbie was brought to life in a truly captivating way through the use of artistic license, meticulous attention to detail, and a dash of nostalgia.