Christopher Frayling + Ken Adam

Kultureflash #235, 5th March 2008

We know Ken Adam as a prolific movie set designer, most memorably for the Bond films (Moonraker — worst movie, best sets). Yet you could argue that Adam was as much an “unbuilt architect” as he was a set designer; there were great architects of the 20th century whose projects remained mainly on paper, but not so many whose projects lived entirely on screen. Like early modernist architects Erich Mendelsohn, or Hans Poelzig, he was a German Jew (born Klaus Adam) who emigrated in the early 1930s to escape fascism. The two worlds overlapped; these pioneers were no knew their set design (Poelzig for one was responsible for the expressionist sets of The Golem) and Adam actually trained as an architect at the Bartlett. A certain Norman Foster has cited him as an influence more than once (which makes a lot of sense: compare and contrast). Christopher Frayling, author of Ken Adam: The Art Of Production Design, is no stranger to interviewing our man; most recently in conjunction with a screening of Kubrick‘s classic Dr Strangelove, where the set of the war room is a virtual part of the cast. Frayling and Adam make an obvious, but excellent, choice as part of the RCA’s Double Take lecture series.

NB: Also of note is the Lacaton & Vassal lecture at the Bartlett on 12/03 (6:30pm).

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