One of my favourite films from last year was Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling starring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles and Chris Pine. A surreal saga of a 1950s housing development that isn’t all as it seems. The mid-century inspired architecture and interiors stood out to me as much as they enhanced the overwhelming feeling of optimism and dread within the tale.
Olivia has taken the quintessential American suburban utopia and added 60s and 70s design influences that help produce a film with dark yet dreamy interiors. The production designer Kate Byron turned to mid-century modernism to create a set that felt ‘alluring, sumptuous and opulent.’ The Palm Springs location blended with mid-century décor such as lively pastel palettes, moody walnut woods, plenty of glass and mirrors as well as smaller home accessories like the vintage Sylvania television.
Olivia has been said to have kept an image of Slim Aarons ‘Poolside Gossip’ above her desk whilst writing Don’t Worry Darling, and this vision can be seen throughout the film. The socialite and glamourous lifestyle via the architecture and interior design, as Slim Aarons himself put it ‘attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.’
There are key mid-century design players throughout the film, from Albert Frey to Neutra Kaufmann. There is even a scene filmed outside the iconic Kaufmann Desert House, the same building showcased within the image ‘Poolside Gossip’, so there is a real sense of homage and synchronicity.
Mid Century architecture butterfly roofs feature with interior details such as stacked cushions on the living room floor, the teal-coloured bathtub, and a walnut wood record player unit. This film has the design and décor as a storyline element – an idyllic sublime image that holds disturbing secrets underneath.