Dynamic angles. Bold shapes. Dark and light. This is the James Bond aesthetic in its simplest sense, established by the makers of the early movies and especially Sir Ken Adam, who designed many of the iconic sets, from Goldfinger’s Fort Knox interior in 1964 to the volcanic lair in 1967’s You Only Live Twice.
If you’re watching a Bond movie, you know it. The architecture and design of those films have reflected and influenced style and fashion for decades.
As art directors on No Time to Die, Andrew Bennett and Neal Callow are charged with maintaining that legacy.
“Our job as art directors – and that of anyone on the creative side of Bond – is to keep up to speed with developments and innovation in architecture, lighting, decoration. Absorb and amalgamate that with the kind of spirit of the legacy of the franchise.”
Bennett adds: “We did make this film a couple of years ago but I’m very confident it will look as fresh today as it did the day we made it. That is key in any Bond movie – it has that unique freshness and it’s timeless as well.”
One of their tasks on No Time to Die was to design a house in Jamaica where Bond has been living under the radar. What kind of house would Bond live in?
‘Bond’s got taste. He’s got elegance. He’s understated. British. It’s classy’ Neal Callow, No Time to Die art director
“It’s more about the moment,” Callow says. “A lot of Bond is about the actor playing him. So what state of mind is James Bond in, and what does Daniel Craig bring to James Bond?
“How can we represent that personality and mood, that moment in the life of James Bond, through architecture and design?
“So Bond’s retired from the service. He’s gone to get away from it all in Jamaica. What would he be doing in Jamaica?
“Well, he’s not going to be sitting around sipping martinis – he’s not that in that kind of moment in his life. He’s going to be fixing boat engines, fishing and reading books. So what kind of books would he be reading at this point in his life?
“The set decorating department will want to know the director and Daniel’s vision for that moment, then that information will filter down. We’ll take that as a kind of brief and try to represent the emotional place the character’s in through our design and decoration.”
What would their advice be if we wanted to make our home more Bond-esque?
“He’s got taste,” says Callow. “He’s got elegance. He’s understated. British. It’s classy. Bond enjoys quality but it’s not to show off. Things will be well made, well considered.”
“He also has a sense of humour,” Bennett adds.
Should we also consider the dynamic angles, bold shapes, dark and light?
“That’s a lot about cinematography and where the legacy design of James Bond came from,” Callow says.
“Ken Adam was the master of that. He was half drinking in the most innovative ideas in art and architecture of the time, and the other half was about composing shots for film, using shadow and light and dramatic angles to frame the characters in a memorable composition.
“We try to do that as much as possible and pay respect to the legacy. But it still has to be contemporary.”
Says Bennett: “And I would say that when you do start to see angular architecture, shadows and bolder statements, the moment for Bond is changing.
“With the design of Bond you’re led in from reality. Slowly, subliminally you’ll be brought into these other dimensions.
“You probably won’t even realise it, but if you go back and look you’ll go, hang on, we were taken to a different world. But it felt part of reality because we are absorbed by Bond’s moment. It’s all about the moment for Bond.”
This article is taken from an interview in the latest edition of The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.