Set Design – An Insiders Guide

November 24, 2016

Set design and set styling are core services we offer at The Halo Group. This week’s blog explores how to create truly dramatic effects when approaching your project. 

Don’t Always Stick to the Script

In true festive spirit, we kick things off with The Claridges Christmas Tree. Each year a different designer creates their own interpretation of this iconic installation. Over the years the likes of Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, John Galliano and Dolche & Gabbana have offered their own vision to name a few. Dolche & Gabbana’s stunning design in 2013 offered a traditional take.


Others however haven’t always stuck to the script. John Galliano’s version flips tradition on its head with a  dramatic coral inspired design.

Claridges Xmas Tree

Christopher Bailey’s reimagined Christmas tree is both glamorous & bold with its umbrella inspired geometric shapes and luxurious gold finish.


These examples help to illustrate how thinking differently, using unconventional materials and using imagination in your design can create real drama and impact.

Create an Immersive Set Design

Immersive” is still a buzz word after all this time and for good reason. Set design is all about telling a story and the best way to get an audience involved is to make them part of the action. Sir Jony Ive, Marc Newson and Michael Howells’ interpretation of the Claridges’ Christmas tree is a case in point.



Here the trio have designed an environment that draws people in. The beautiful aesthetics and attention to detail are excellent examples of effective set design and creative story telling. When it comes to set design  we take a similar approach.


The Halo Group recently produced a press event for The Body Shop. This jungle themed event required a detailed design to take the media, bloggers and influencers on a journey. Here we took a blank canvas venue in central London to create a Hollywood style set complete with hundreds of real plants, trees, mosses, soils, foliage and flowers to achieve the effect.


As guests meandered through the space at each twist and turn they discovered different product displays to sample.






Scenic Production

Scenic painting is a great was to create ultra realistic finishes. When using certain materials simply isn’t practical for a temporary build, such as stone, concrete, metal etc scenic painting techniques can be used.

temporary structure designs

For the Tokyo Nights project, The Halo Group used scenic techniques to create a range of temporary structures such as the Love Hotel pictured above. Using our modular steel system to build a frame, these were clad in plywood before the final finish was applied to stunning effect.

Be Original

It’s a bit of a cliche but originality can really capture peoples’ imagination. Take Lee Broom’s Salone del Automobile installation. Lee recreated part of an Italian palazzo inside his studio’s delivery van during  Milan Design Week. When you consider the competition for designers at an event of this calibre you need to do something really different to stand out from the crowd and this clever set design really delivers! (no pun intended)

Think Big

Thinking big often comes with a big price tag so if your budget allows why not push the boat out for maximum effect. The big hitters here are the fashion labels who spend huge sums on their set designs and locations.





Most of us however don’t have an unlimited budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make a big impact. Take our stage design for the BBC at Glastonbury Festival. Housed in a small teepee behind the pyramid stage, space was at a premium so our designs needed to really pop.


Each year we create a different stage set for the BBC at Glastonbury and one of the key considerations is making sure it stands out on camera. The BBC Music teepee hosts many of the festival’s headline acts, who perform unplugged acoustic sets for the broadcaster for their online coverage. Choice of materials and colour pallets are paramount factors in our designs to ensure the sets look great on film. It is important to consider the finer detail when space or budget is restricted.



Use Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a big trend right now. The technology promises to take immersive experiences to the next level. Creating 360 degree virtual sets is now more advanced than ever and brands, musicians, artists and many others are now harnessing its capabilities to great effect. You can expect to see ever more elaborate examples of this in the future including full VR formats, multi-dicipline hybrids and more. rsz_1playstation-vr-main_thumb800





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