What is a Set Designer?

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

A set designer has the ever-important job of setting the scene for creative artists such as actors, directors, and other personnel. Anything that is a production, such as a play, movie, runway show, or photo shoot, requires a set designer.

Set designers always have their hands full, whether they are creating props or researching exactly what the set needs to perfectly convey the theme.

Set designers will often read the script for the production as part of their research for how the set should be designed and what kind of tones it should have. The set designer is one of the most important job duties for any production and requires a great deal of work and attention to detail.

To be a set designer you need to not only be a reliable hard worker, but you need to be creative as well, since designing a proper set can require a great deal of creativity and thinking outside of the box.

Problems tend to occur with the design of every set, and it is the set designer’s job to solve such problems and keep the project on schedule.

Primary roles


For set designers to do their jobs properly, they must research how the set should be designed before doing anything else.

This means that set designers will read the script for the production they are working on.

They do this so that they can get the feel and mood of the production and take careful notes on the surroundings descripted in the script.

Creating props

Set designers have the responsibility of creating props for the set. The sort of props that will entail depends entirely on the production.

Set designers take a great deal of time researching what props they will need to create and how they must stage the set before they set to creating.

These ideas are often shown to directors in the form of detailed scaled models and drawn-out blue prints.

Secondary roles

Recreating locations

It’s not always possible for a production to be filmed or viewed on location.

If a setting is more technical, such as the inside of a space station, then it is the set designer’s job to do the research that is necessary to create a realistic and accurate backdrop for the production.

This may include visiting the location on-site or viewing many photographs of the location.

Collaborate with others

Set designers collaborate with many professionals to perform their job with maximum efficiency and quality.

For productions that have a larger budget and demand a more involved or technical set, set designers will often work with other professionals to set the scene or stage.

This includes professionals such as skilled carpenters, painters, and licensed electricians.

Since set designers frequently consult with other professionals and recruit their help when necessary, having clear communication skills is key for a successful set designer.