ADG Perspective

November-December 2020

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L I T T L E F I R E S E V E R Y W H E R E | P E R S P E C T I V E 4 9 Adapted from the novel by Celeste Ng, the series takes a close look at race, class and motherhood, along with how implicit bias and privilege sculpts one's view of the world. Led by the female- driven production companies Hello Sunshine and Simpson Street, it not only offered a chance to work with a strong female led team, but also on a period project that focuses on social and political issues still significant today. Little Fires Everywhere centers around two mothers and the choices they have made in their careers, families and lifestyles: Elena Richardson—played by Reese Witherspoon, and Mia Warren—played by Kerry Washington. Elena has lived in Shaker Heights her entire life, her family now living in the Tudor mansion that was her childhood home. She has always played by the rules and believes that through control and order, she can craft the perfect life—four kids, a successful lawyer husband, a job as a senior reporter at the local paper, dinner together at the dining table every night a picture perfect life. This is reflected throughout the house, down to the color-coded calendar on her kitchen fridge. The beige walls (the '90s version of white) throughout her home are chosen to show any dirt that needs to be immediately wiped off and each piece is selected not just for its function, but also for its ability to craft the illusion of a perfect home for her perfect family. Working from initial research reflecting a tightly controlled palette as a springboard, here is where set decorator Lisa Clark thrived. Embracing both the style of the decade and preciseness of Elena's character, Lisa played with the matching patterns in the home, using fabric on the curtains and then reversing it in the pillows on the sofa, organizing all the books in the bookcases by color, and arranging weekly deliveries of fresh, exclusively white flower arrangements throughout all the rooms of the house. Elena's home decor also plays with one of the ongoing story lines, which involves the battle over the adoption of a Chinese baby by white parents after the birth mother tries to regain custody. In the family room, there are hints of cultural appropriation in the curtain valence, Ming vases in every wide pleat. Similar touches can be seen throughout the house from small decorative items to Asian figurine fixtures to bedding and drapery patterns in the master bedroom. Mia, a nomadic artist, never stays in one place for more than a few months. She is a single mother who believes that with change comes inspiration and growth. Living paycheck to paycheck, she takes up residence in Elena's rental property. In Mia's home, all of the furniture is second hand, whether found on the side of the road or in thrift stores, but still specifically chosen because it has a soul to bring into her space. While the walls are also beige in the rental apartment, Mia views them as her own blank canvas, covering them in paint, art and found objects. Contrasting patterns and styles of furniture are combined throughout the space; a gameboard used as table, a pile of pillows over palettes creating a reading nook, and a collection of hand mirrors along a wall in place of typical framed photos. Lisa chose many items from the '70s, as the '90s thrift stores were full of that era before it became hip or vintage. The apartment's sunroom is transformed into her artist's studio, a room where layers of materials, tools and natural elements create a sanctuary for her creativity. Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an affluent suburb of Cleveland in 1997, Little Fires Everywhere is a piece that delves into topics that continue to be at the forefront of the current political climate. A. REESE WITHERSPOON AND KERRY WASHINGTON IN ELENA'S KITCHEN. PHOTO BY ERIN SIMKIN/ HULU. B. REESE WITHERSPOON AND KERRY WASHINGTON IN ELENA'S LIVING ROOM. SHOWING THE DESIGN FOCUSED ON DEPTH AND SCALE, THIS SHOT IS LOOKING FROM THE LIVING ROOM, THROUGH THE FOYER INTO THE DINING ROOM. MASSIVE TUDOR ARCHWAYS DELINEATE SPACES, KEEPING ELENA FIRMLY ROOTED IN AN OLD- WORLD ARCHITECTURAL LANGUAGE. PHOTO BY ERIN SIMKIN/HULU. C. SHAKER HEIGHTS WELCOME BROCHURE COVER. GRAPHIC LAYOUT BY STEVEN MILOSAVLESKI. C

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