Design Lessons from This Year's Oscar Nominated Films

Design Lessons from This Year's Oscar Nominated Films

Kim Moreau Jacobs
Feb 28, 2016
(Image credit: The Weinstein Company)

Hollywood’s biggest night, the Oscars, is inching ever closer, so we thought it was time to reflect on the design lessons tucked away in some of this year’s nominated films. From how to properly hire a plumber to crafting a moody room worthy of an affair, here are our favorite silver screen tips to bring home to your real life.

(Image credit: The Weinstein Company)


The film’s limited palette is intentional and keeps the vibe both mutedly sexy and slightly oppressive. Even if you don’t love it in the acidy-green, the beadboard in Carol’s living room is something to be admired, as is the molding-plus-wallpaper look shown at the top of the post.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

The Revenant

Bleak, washed out color palettes have their place. Especially when you layer on texture like fur and organic woods, or even an accent color like bright crimson.

(Image credit: Focus Features)

The Danish Girl

The production design of what may cause a back-to-back win for Eddie Redmayne is as impressive as his acting. From incredible Copenhagen architecture to jazz age flourishes that intensify as Lili becomes more and more herself while living in Paris, there’s so much to be swept away in. Take all those feminine Rococo touches and sumptuous colors from Gerda’s artwork, as inspiration to live as you please. We loved Jezebel’s interview with Eve Stewart about her work on the film.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

The Martian

A testament to micro living, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) shows all the lovely positives plants can bring to a home—particularly potatoes.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The Big Short

Ok, it’s not a design tip, but we did learn about the importance of a budget. Now we will never be swayed by fast-talking mortgage types or strippers who promise you that it’s just so easy to own multiple properties.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)


Maybe it was just us, but Joy’s mom’s bedroom/tv room/caftan-wearing zone really had its high points. The white rattan dresser. That groovy double lamp. All that natural light diffused by lacy curtains. A rug to cover up the hole in the floor caused by terrible plumbing issues. Okay, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but at least she wasn’t having to share it like the boys downstairs. And sometimes minor repairs mean calling in a pretty handsome plumber. Of course, the rotating set design of early QVC can’t go without a nod either. Bonus: it’s so easy to clean up.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Mad Max

A coat of silver spray paint can jazz up almost anything.

(Image credit: The Weinstein Company)

The Hateful Eight

An open floor plan can work for multiple people living in one space. . .mostly.

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)


This sweet film about an immigrant falling in love in the 1950s offers a glimpse into life in the borough before the hipster arrived. In an interview with Architectural Digest, production designer François Séguin mentioned that most of the furnishings are actually 1930s appropriate, as people wouldn’t have immediately redecorated to the modern style. So, let this be a lesson to embrace what you have (sort of). At least if what you have is amazing wallpaper.

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