What is a Set Decorator?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
What is a Set Decorator?

A set decorator creates a setting adapted to a producer’s script. Using an artistic interpretation they decorate the location with physical details.

They provide the cast with fashion characteristics that make the scene believable. The environment’s display tells the viewer about the people and the locality without saying a word.

It starts when the set decorator meets with the production designer. They discuss the production script to inspire the props for achieving the producer’s vision.

Set decorators are also known as designers or display coordinators for sets, stages and studios. It’s their expertise in setting the mood that helps to solidify the producer’s vision of the script.

These designers are specialists at creating the past or future in the current surrounding. It’s a creative skill done with props related to production media.

They also include graphic perspectives of landscapes, vehicles and even animals.

Showcasing video production

In preparation for the production set decorators develop a list of items needed. They also collect the items identified by the production design crews and artists.

The set decorators meet with several trade designers to discuss fabrics, colors and backgrounds that match the production’s venue.

The next step is to develop a presentation board with sketches and color patches for review. Once the set designs are approved the purchasing process begins.

Most production companies have warehouses filled with props. Existing pieces help to maintain the expense budgets. In some cases, it may be required to commission trade designers to build specific props.

Primary roles

Designing the set

The set decorator’s main purpose is to furnish the interior and exterior sets for the video production.

The job is about selecting the visual aspects. It entails finding objects from lighting, furniture to drapes and bookcases to fill the environment. Outside, it’s about landscapes, trees, water features, sidewalks and structures.

They work closely with the line producer, paying attention to the approved set budget for expenses and labor cost.

Like all specialized professions, set decorators have connections in the industry. They know where the hidden treasures are located to ensure the designs match the concept.

The business part requires them to keep records, receipts and oversee all prop deliveries.

Good back into your memory and recall a favorite house or street from your favorite movie. Most likely the home belonged to a private owner and the street name never existed in real life. The set decorator created it and made you believe it was real.

Secondary roles

Representing the scene

Once the production is in full swing, the set decorator supervises all stage changes. It’s their job to ensure any removal or additions of props keep the setting intact.

Modifications happen as the performance develops or the director makes script changes. In some cases the projection created by the set decorator is a character, other times it’s an environment.

The artistic talent of a set decorator brings the presence of life into the production. They do it by incorporating both the physical and personal effects to help illustrate the scene’s representation.