Meet Halina Siwolop, the set decorator behind the stunning 60’s-era Masters of Sex sets you’ve been admiring for two seasons already. Get to know Halina and see photos of her gorgeous set design.
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Tell us a little about your background in design. How did you enter the world of set decorating?
After a few years working in the clothing industry and then in marketing, I decided to pursue a career in interior design and enrolled in the UCLA Environmental and Interior Design program. I had always wanted to pursue design but wasn’t sure which aspect I wanted to pursue. Right before I finished the UCLA program, I had the opportunity to be a production assistant on a commercial. It was love at first sight for me and I decided right then and there to be a set decorator. I loved all the energy of working on a production crew and the fact that you have the opportunity to create and decorate such a wide variety of environments. I started off working in commercials and then gradually ended up working in television.
How do you build your vision for Masters of Sex set design?
We try to base our designs on what was appropriate for that time period and then tailor it for each character. That’s the fun part of the job – adding the personality to a room. Our show is set in St. Louis, Missouri and we try to keep a Midwestern sensibility to the design of the show. Often we get background information on characters, but sometimes we just get to make things up, like giving characters certain hobbies or quirks. Some of our sets are layered and some are more sparsely dressed, based on what we think is appropriate. For instance, Masters’ house and clinic are kept more clean and sparse to reflect his minimalism in speech and emotion.
You have a covetable job. Any favorite moments ?
My favorite memories stem from the moments when we’re finished our sets and the actors walk in with their fabulous period costumes and you just get transported to another era. It’s a joint venture, from costumes to props to set dressing to the vintage cars to create a believable environment. You really feel like you’ve walking into a slice of history and I just love that. And I have to say that my entire crew is so talented and funny and they really make my job more fun and enjoyable.
Do you ever find inspiration for MOS set design in present-day sources?
If so what I am constantly looking through design magazines and catalogues so I guess all my design choices are filtered through my modern viewpoint. I often look at new mid-century inspired design and look for their original roots and take that back to the set.
Are there any items on set you'd want to incorporate into your own home?
Yes, too many! I live in a mid-century house and love adding vintage details to my home. I love all the patterned wallpaper that we use and would love to incorporate some into my house. And I keep finding items in the 1966 Sears catalogue that I want to buy, especially the everyday items like glasses or bedspreads and matching curtains. Having said that, I do try to mix modern pieces with the vintage finds – I love blending old and new and getting a really eclectic mix in my home.
Color seems to play a very important role on set.
Can you tell us how you select and pair color for the Masters of Sex set?
Color has always been a huge factor in the design of the show and even more so for the sixties, where they often paired two or three bright colors in the design of a room. Whenever possible, we try to use bold colors or brightly colored patterns everywhere. I love mixing colors and patterns to get the right balance of texture and color.
Are there any 60's-era design trends you wish were still popular today?
I am a huge fan of the midcentury wood cut screens used as room dividers and am sad that this isn’t used as much as a design element anymore. I have one in my house and it’s always the first thing people comment on. I also love some of the fabric patterns and wallpapers used back then. As much as I love a neutral house, there is something so inviting about the bold patterns used in the sixties.
What is one practical way to incorporate 60's-era design inspiration into a home?
There are so many great objects and furniture right now that hint of the 1960’s and it’s easy to add touches of that era to your home. Mid-century inspired lighting, in particular, adds an instant touch of the 60’s. Also, there are so many great pieces of furniture that incorporate the 60’s look of interesting Danish design, bold colors, and simple architectural lines. I would start with one item you love, whether it’s vintage or modern and then start building around it. A few select pieces can really bring you that 60’s-era feel and then you’ll be off and running.
Watch Masters Of Sex Sundays at 10pm ET/PT on SHOWTIME®
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