Have you ever found yourself losing track of the plot of a film as you zoom in to check out the chair lurking in the background of the shot? Us too! Which is exactly why we were over the moon to discover Film and Furniture, a site dedicated to the wealth of interiors inspiration on our screens.
The founder of Film and Furniture, Paula Benson, has created an incredible resource. With hundreds of articles ranging from a deep dive into the modernist furniture featured in Batman v Superman to a sneak preview of the furniture being used in the Fifty Shades Darker (which, by the way, is glam-amazing), it’s easy to get lost in the treasure trove of information. And not only does Paula and her team of writers curate the best interiors from film scenes, they also provide exclusive insights from the set directors behind these wonderful creations. And the best thing? Film and Furniture will then point you in the right direction of where to where to pick up something similar yourself.
We meet Paula in her North London home that she shares with her partner in life and business, Paul. As the co-founders of respected design agency Form, both Paula and Paul have been designing bold and beautiful brands for over 25 years. Paula’s enviable design credentials are clear – amongst many other high profile projects, she is hot off the back of working on a rebrand for the inimitable and enduring Abbey Road Studios. As a lover of all things well-designed, we chat to Paula about her interiors style at home, her favourite designers and the moment she knew she was hooked on furniture in film.
Tell us about Film and Furniture in a nutshell
Film and Furniture is a lovingly curated online resource showing you exactly where to find and buy the furniture, décor and homeware you spot in the movies.
From retro classics such as the famous sixties red chair in the ground breaking 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or the vintage whisky glasses from Mad Men, to contemporary items like Batman’s desk chair in the recent Batman v Superman or Christian Grey’s sofa in Fifty Shades. Serving an after dinner whiskey in the exact heavy weight Italian glass tumbler Deckard drinks from in Blade Runner certainly makes a conversation piece!
We go in-depth into the stories behind these pieces – discussing why they were chosen for the film, what the piece communicates about a character or how it sets a scene, who designed it and where you can buy it to recreate a sliver of the silver screen in your own home. We get our facts straight by often interviewing our contacts within the film industry such as the set and production designers. Film and Furniture is also simply a great source of interior design inspiration. In our world, the furniture is the star.
When and how was the idea for Film and Furniture conceived? Was there a particular film that sparked your interest in film decor?
I’ve always been passionate about interior design and furniture and often lose the plot when watching a film, as I am focusing on the chairs or wallpaper within a scene – whether a fabulous Saarinen Womb Chair in The Moon is Blue (1953) or a cabinet in the background of a Game of Thrones scene.
What actually spawned the idea for Film and Furniture was one of my many revisits to Kubrick’s The Shining a few years ago. The hexagonal carpet in the Overlook Hotel has achieved cult status. However, when I began researching it I spiralled down a rabbit hole of conjecture and conspiracy about what it represents. It was obvious that there were many people like me who wanted to discover more about furniture and set design in the movies, yet there were very few ways of finding out how to source them for your own home and arming yourself with interesting behind the scenes facts at the same time.
What has been one of your proudest moments whilst working on Film and Furniture? Was there a milestone you reached that really meant something to you?
Discovering that many people around the world are excited to source and learn about furniture in films keeps us motivated! One early milestone for us was receiving a call from Universal Pictures asking if we’d be interested in interviewing one of Hollywood’s biggest set designers. Up until that point Film and Furniture content had been down to us researching, bugging and begging for information – and now it was vice versa! This signified the site getting some serious traction and attention from the film industry as well as from avid and regular readers.
As well as being the founder of Film and Furniture, you have also run successful design agency Form for over 25 years. How do the two roles complement one another?
I am passionate about design and culture. I co-founded the branding and graphic design agency Form® with my partner Paul West. We specialise in design for music, festivals, and fashion and last year we rebranded the world famous Abbey Road Studios. We create worlds and experiences through our work – which parallels the medium of film of course. In design meetings we often reference film scenes – it’s a great way of referencing a visual language or mood: “High gloss white like a Storm Trooper” or “nostalgic and colorful like a Wes Anderson movie”. So the two areas of my professional life compliment each other very well.
I also have an inquisitive and over active mind, so switching from Form® to Film and Furniture and back, keeps me stimulated. As Film and Furniture grows ever bigger, I will soon need to readdress the balance of the two.
How would you describe your own interior style at home?
Eclectic: A mix of contemporary with antique and vintage pieces and from shiny white to aged wood. I hate things to look too contrived and styled, but then again I also like clean lines and 90-degree angles.
For example my lounge/dining space has a large contemporary white shelving unit and large white table next to an antique wooden dove cot we use as a sideboard and a twisted branch found in the woods hanging from the ceiling.
Do you have a favourite furniture designer? Do you have a favourite furniture design era?
I’m a sucker for Mid Century Modern furniture, not only because of the aesthetics of clean lines and sculptural shapes but also because of the major innovations in materials and manufacturing driven by the designers of this time.
In our current fast paced and throw away culture, the ever increasing interest in post war modern furniture represents a search for something authentic, well thought through and lasting.
Eero Saarinen is possibly one of my favourite designers. The Tulip Chair (and the Pedestal family of furniture of which it is a part) and the Womb Chair harness an optimistic and progressive vision of the future – and bearing in mind they were both designed in the late 1940s, his vision was nothing short of breath taking. This same spirit was captured in his architecture, in particular his design for the TWA Flight Centre which opened in 1962 as the original terminal for Trans World Airlines at New York City’s JFK airport. It’s like something out of a sci-fi space movie.
Contemporary designers such as Patricia Urquiola have the midas touch with every commission she embraces. Her tiles adorn the walls of my bathroom. I am also a fan of Jonathan Adler’s bold and distinctive retro-lux style.
What has been your favourite film to analyse the decor in? Which article has sparked the most interest from your followers?
To coincide with the launch of Batman V Superman, Google Maps launched a 360-degree tour of Bruce Wayne’s new lakeside glass house. Stumbling across it online one day, I instantly and excitedly recognised many classic furniture pieces within the house and was compelled to write about it. I also thought it was rather clever to create a thoroughly modernist glass house as a ‘front’ to the bat cave as it intelligently referenced not only the Mies van der Rohe architectural masterpiece The Farnsworth House but also the Phillip Johnson Glass House. The latter – Philip Johnson designed for himself with an underground bunker for his art collection. It’s been the most read article on the website so far and in two parts we show you where you can buy Bruce Wayne’s furniture for your own home.
You’re clearly growing fast at Film and Furniture – what’s next?
We are focused on growing our audience and will be working with a wider team of esteemed and passionate writers to bring more and more interesting stories to the site, as well as working towards building a true online marketplace for our visitors to buy the pieces we discuss more easily. We already provide links on where to buy the furniture and décor we talk about and soon we will be building a more defined online shop.
We’re also developing the business with some exciting partnerships with film companies and furniture companies, as well as live events.
If you could choose one piece from Layer, what would it be and where would it be placed?
It took me about 5 hours to answer this question as I got lost amongst all the fabulous finds on your website!
I’ll plump for this velvet aubergine Italian 60s sofa which will be placed in my lounge.
Something I’ve always wanted but never got round to acquiring would be this Saarinen dining table one of which featured in Roger Stirling’s office in Mad Men (and the side table version appeared in the Space Station lobby of 2001: A Space Odyssey).