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The Oscars and Swarovski – A Production Designer’s Dream

Posted by Team APATA | Jul 9, 2020

Postponed for the fourth time in its history, the Oscars will have a different feel to them in 2021.  The world of film making has faced a big upheaval this year being tested in more ways than one. Things will change and must change, but one thing we’re sure won’t change is the glitz of Hollywood and its love of sparkly things.

We’re talking about shine, glitter and glamour – not from the ladies, but from the production design of the Oscars set. As a set designed for television as well as a large celebrity audience the Oscars definitely packs a bejewelled punch to the eye. A Swarovski crystal bejewelled punch that is.

2021 will celebrate 14 years of partnership between The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences and Swarovski, the crystal design house best known for adorning lovers of glamour around the globe.

80 plus years ago Ms Marlene Dietrich gave Swarovski their first on screen debut and it has been a match made in heaven ever since. And If truth be told Marilyn Monroe really should have sung “Swarovski’s are a Girl’s Bestfriend” as it was the crystals surrounding her in that famous scene. But that is the beauty of Swarovski crystals isn’t it? They “shine bright like a diamond”, and sometimes better.

The first Swarovski/Oscars collaboration was with the late J.Michael Riva and his design for the Dreamgirls musical number set. That’s when things ramped up.

Want to know what we don’t want to do? Take 100,000 Swarovski crystals and string them by hand onto 6000 one-metre strands. Swarovski did it. In 2009 David Rockwell, the Dolby Theatre Architect and Production Designer for the Oscars used these 6000 strands to create a proscenium curtain 30.5m wide and 18.5m high and coming in at a weight of 3 tons. No , we don’t want to do that, but…The effect was magnificent! And made a second appearance the next year!

Behind the scenes: Dolby Theatre – Geoffrey Morrison for c.net 2020         

2009 Oscars Set construction phase                                                                                                                 2009 Stage is set and brought back in 2010

Derek McLane

Multiple Tony Award winning set designer, Derek McLane,  is the longest serving Production Designer for the Oscars 2013-2018. His lavish Swarovski-laden designs have dazzled. 2017 for the tenth anniversary of Swarovski sponsorship he designed eleven suspended crystal Oscar statues and the entire theatre dripped in over 300,000 crystals. For the 2018 Oscars, taking inspiration from Swarovski’s own archives and the Versailles Hall of Mirrors, Mclane really went all out. The Proscenium alone contained 45 million faceted mirrors and 37,000 crystals put in place at some point by the hands of human beings which is staggering.

Derek McLane and the lavish 2018 Oscars set.

So what is to come? The 2020 Oscars set was designed by 30 year old Jason Sherwood in 3 days. Sherwood removed the proscenium arch, bringing what he feels is a more intimate and immersive presentation to the audiences. And he would know, having designed world tours for big name artists like Sam Smith and the Spice Girls and winning and Emmy in 2019 for his production design of Rent: Live. Sherwood’s involvement brought a fresh organic feel to the the Academy’s night of nights with his set shimmering with 40,000 Swarovski crystals continuing the long-lasting relationship.

For 2021 the Oscars have been rescheduled for April coinciding with the opening of the American Museum of Motion Pictures.

Here’s to the 14th Swarovski collaboration with the Oscars for 2021 and a truly bedazzled friendship.

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