After watching Moonrise Kingdom, I couldn't stop thinking about the beautiful imagery, which seemed as crucial to the story as the plot. Wes Anderson's depiction of two lovesick runaways living in 1960s New England was laced with campy references, stunning antiques, and picturesque shots of coastal scenery. I was curious to find out how production designer Adam Stockhausen balanced authenticity with the fantastical quirkiness that characterized the film.
After the film debuted as the opening picture at Cannes, I finally had a moment to chat with Adam about his greatest inspiration and challenges for the film.
CasaSugar: The 1960s seems to be an era that is resurfacing in design, and certainly in pop culture. Was your inspiration guided more by capturing the authenticity of that era or by creating atmospheres that expressed the quirkiness and individuality of each of the characters? How so?
Adam Stockhausen: It's really all about the characters. The Bishops, for instance, are a very unique family and we spent a long time assembling the final look of their house from all the pieces we had seen and responded to. Some details are very clearly '60s and others from earlier periods. The same goes for the rest of the characters. We started out thinking Captain Sharp would live in a cabin, but then the Spartanette felt like just the right fit for his bachelor personality.
Keep reading after the jump to find out which pattern inspired most of the film's decor, where antiques were sourced, and how Fort Lebanon was created!
CS: Plaid shows up everywhere in the film, from the staircase runner in Suzy Bishop's home to the Khaki Scout leader's tent lining. What is it about the pattern that seemed particularly fitting for the set decor?
AS: Well, I think it started with Scoutmaster Ward's tent. Wes had the idea very early on to make his tent plaid. Then we wanted the scouts to have some piece of that feeling as well, so we made interior linings of a beautiful vintage plaid. Plaid is just a bit snappier than plain canvas and that buttoned-up quality felt right for Scoutmaster Ward.
CS: The nautical decorative elements really help to illustrate the East Coast island setting. How did you go about sourcing those pieces?
AS: That was actually the easy part! We shot in Newport, RI, which is basically maritime heaven. There were wonderful pieces all over the place. In fact, the mini lighthouse next to Mrs. Bishop and Captain Sharp during their evening talk we spotted by accident while driving around scouting. Kris Moran, the set decorator, talked the owners into renting it to us for the shoot.
CS: I understand that interiors and exteriors from that era and geographic region were researched for the homes, but what influenced the look of the camps? Did you research scout troops and camps from the 1960s?
AS: We looked at the whole history of scouting — from the very beginning. There were little bits and pieces from the '20s all the way up to the '60s that were inspiring. We also looked at worldwide scouting-type organizations. There were some French patches I remember in particular that eventually led us to the raccoon emblem. Probably the most important visual references were the Norman Rockwell BSA paintings. They seem to embody a whole noble spirit of scouting that inspired us quite a bit. Architecturally, we were blown away by the actual scout camp in Rhode Island, Camp Yawgoog. Its stockade walls, paths, and lakefront areas guided us to the look of Fort Lebanon. At Ivanhoe we took the look and feel of Lebanon and scaled it way down for Troop 55.