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In Search of Beauty : 15 Best on-screen interiors & visually-inspiring rooms for your viewing pleasure

6 min read

As far as interiors inspiration goes, there is no better place to look than in the imagination of dream-spinners and image makers. Great production designers spend enormous time researching the past or exploring a fictional future to create authentic backdrop for their stories . Here is my edit of the best on-screen rooms across Hollywood, Bollywood, Television and (some) World Cinema.

 

Normally long weekends are great news, except when it is Holi. Instead of going for long walks or enjoying al-fresco brunches one is stuck at home. Of all Indian festivals, Holi is my least favourite. Instead of dressing up, women and men wear their discardable clothes and replace fine-china, linen & pretty things with plastic stuff & throw-away decor. Aargh.

With so much ugliness outside, I’ve decided to stay-in and re-watch some of the most beautiful and visually inspiring films — so much for my sweet revenge against Bollywood’s cheap commercialisation of what was once a joyous spring festival. Ha!

My list of films, however, extend to include gems from Hollywood, World Cinema and TV shows. The nominees are …

 

For the best visually-inspiring spaces

 

Amélie, 2001

French

Still from the movie Amelie, 2001

 

Watch the trailer

 

Infused with greens, reds and saturated jewel tones, Amélie is remarkably close to decor trends in 2017s, a happy coincidence of-course. Amélie’s room is quirky and if there is an inspiration to pull-off a red-colour room, it is here. More importantly the film too is every bit as inspirational as the decor it features.

 

The Artist, 2011

English

A still from the movie The Artist, 2011

 

Watch the trailer

 

The striking Art Deco living room with Tamara Lempicka’s (reproduction but of course) glowing above the fireplace, fitted out with engraved crystal tupperware, wallpaper & fabric textures — every detail of this Black & White film is exquisite and authentic to the elegance of Prohibition era in America.

 

A Single Man

English

Still from the movie, A Single Man

 

Watch the trailer

 

Did you know that illustrious Tom Ford graduated with a degree in architecture? No surprise therefore how he manages to combine his expertise in both fashion and architecture to create this stunning visual drama. The house by the way, is designed by John Lautner and as per a recent ‘for sale’ classified it is available for purchase at 1.5 million US dollars. That’s about 10 crores — price one would pay at the very least for a decent sized apartment in Delhi or Mumbai. For the house alone, I could consider living in US irrespective of Mr Trumpeting.

 

The Talented Mr Ripley, 1999

English

A still from the movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999

 

Watch the trailer

 

From the hotel in New York, to the ship — all the way to Mr Ripley’s apartment in Rome, the decor details are fabulous and true-blue 1950s interiors style. As for Dickie Greenleaf’s home at the Italian isle of Ischia – it is simply the stuff of Instagram dreams.

 

Parineeta, 2011

Hindi

A still from the movie Parineeta, 2011

 

Watch the trailer

 

Set in 1960s Kolkata, two large havelis — one decaying with a creaking wooden staircase, white walls and minimal decor and the other fitted-out in crystal chandeliers, grand piano and Classical Italians busts stand in contrast, next to each other. A great literary work executed to perfection for cinema and for those who love Indo-colonial decor style.

 

Midnight in Paris, 2011

English

A still from the movie Midnight in Paris, 2011

 

Watch the trailer

 

A story about a LA screenwriter whose evening sojourns in Paris turn into magical meetings with 1920s literary figures is filled with a variety of interiors that included the apartment of Jean Cocteau, a recreation of the Moulin Rouge at La Cigale, a surrealistic wedding party with taxidermy, and a whimsical bash thrown by Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, complete with a carousel. This is just plain magic – Woody Allen style.

 

North, by Northwest, 1959

English

A still from the movie North, by Northwest, 1959

 

Watch the trailer

 

Of this film, Time Out London said, “Fifty years on, you could say that Hitchcock’s sleek, wry, paranoid thriller caught the zeitgeist perfectly: Cold War shadiness, secret agents of power, urbane modernism, the ant-like bustle of city life, and a hint of dread behind the sharp suits of affluence.” This is a film swimming in style and aspirational to the end.

 

Dil Chahta Hai, 2001

Hindi

A still the movie Dil Chahta Hai, 2001

 

Watch the trailer

 

Three bachelor boys and their distinctive decor styles — an artist’s Studio, a posh penthouse, an ubercool apartment – the details of Dil Chahta Hai are fabulous. What I love in particular is that this movie brought a super modern look, attitude and design quotient to Hindi Cinema which to the best of my knowledge was unprecedented.

 

For a big style quotient in small rooms

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961

English

A still from the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961

 

Watch the trailer

 

Holly Golightly’s apartment is small, with barely any furniture but the few pieces she does have are absolutely spectacular & huge on personality. A great inspiration for small homes — that is to say, keep only what you absolutely love and then edit it by gifting away everything which is not functional. I call it ‘Go-lightly’ living.

 

CoCo Before Chanel, 2009

French

A still from the movie CoCo before Chanel, 2009

 

Watch the trailer

 

Coco’s tiny apartment, connected via a spiral staircase above her atelier in Paris, is decorated in easy elegance, so typical of everything Chanel. A sumptuous & comfortable sofa, minimalist chairs, oriental screen and coffee table – CoCo before Chanel is as rich in home inspiration as it is in verse. A spectacular biopic of one of the most influential women of the last century, this movie is one of my all time favourites. Please watch it, if you haven’t as yet.

 

For love of completely over-the-top & opulent decor

 

Bajirao Mastani, 2015

Hindi

A still from the movie, Bajirao Mastani, 2015

 

Watch the trailer

 

Its been a long time since I went to watch a movie close to a dozen times in the cinema hall (no kidding)!. To say that Bajirao Mastani’s design quotient took my breath away would be an understatement. Purely from a visual point of view this movie is like taking a ride, on a rocket, to design-moon. Haven’t seen it? You’ve got to change that.

For those of my friends who are non-Indians or perhaps don’t agree, please indulge me and watch this song.

 

 

Marie Antoinette, 2005

A still from the movie Marie Antoinette, 2006

 

Watch the trailer

 

Marie Antoinette’s exquisite taste & love of ornamentation is legendary — those soft pastel colours, intricate floral motifs, divine furniture pieces, parties and cake created a real life dream inside the palace gates at Versailles. This queen of opulence in her later years lived a simple life and had a rustic village built not too far from her former palace. By the way, did you know about a wonderful garden farm in the area where you can eat all the fruit you want – for free, and pay for the fruits or vegetables which you take home. I love spending long afternoons in that beautiful farm, plucking the fruits directly from the shrubs / trees and that’s what I go to Versailles for. The palace, in my opinion, is often too busy and therefore best seen either at a private event or on-screen. Especially if it is Marie Antionette’s biopic.

 

The Great Gatsby, 2006

English

A still from the movie, The Great Gatsby, 2006

 

Watch the trailer

 

“Was all this made entirely from your own imagination” oh yes, thank you Mrs and Mr Luhrmann for this spectacular visual fantasy. Designer Catherine Martin (Mrs Luhrmann) created 42 individual sets to create the visual pizzazz. Every detail from the grand ballroom to the library, master bedroom, entrance hall, wardrobe, garden, terrace and mansions on either side of the river are a dashing tribute to period style & authenticity.

 

Pride & Prejudice, 1995

BBC Drama, English

A still from BBC Drama, Pride & Prejudice, 1995

 

Watch the trailer

 

The stunning and realistic details, as well as an extraordinary execution of BBC’s TV show based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is cinematic delight. The very delicious Colin Firth doesn’t hurt either.

 

Downton Abbey, TV Series (2010-2015)

English

A still from TV Show, Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

 

Watch the trailer

 

The stark contrasts of high-polished mahogany floors against pastel walls and multiple layers of colour and texture has fuelled a demand for all things “Downtonian” . The details in every frame are exquisite. Be it the damask fabrics or playful tassels, large floral carpets, candelabras or crystal decanters — even the Art Nouveau Jazz clubs are beautifully recreated in this magnificent drama.


In anticipation

The long weekend is almost here and I can’t wait to share this with you and then retire to the quiet sanctuary of my own room to view a visually-inspired movie marathon. From my humble interiors to their magnificent sets — looks like I should thank Holi for pushing me to draw this list and enjoy some of best interiors the world has to offer.

Having said that, I’m sure I’ve missed a lot. What would you suggest I add to this list?

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