Young V&A will showcase a variety of creative careers relating to our collections, to inspire and inform children. In the new Imagine Gallery, young visitors will be invited to explore a magical array of set and costume designers through displays of V&A collection objects.
This February half-term, we will be exploring what it’s like to be a set designer with children at the Tower Hamlets Holiday Childcare Scheme, using simple materials and objects to create a 3D world that express emotions.
Introducing Debbie Duru
We have been developing our workshop with designer Debbie Duru. Debbie works in theatre, film and fashion, and designs spaces for performance.
Set design can communicate emotion and feeling in theatre. Debbie explains how:
A set designer is responsible for creating a world for stories to exist on stage. Colour, shape and texture can all help us tell stories to the audience.
What colours or shapes might you use for a happy or sad story? Can you think of other feelings or emotions that you want to express through design?
Inspired by the V&A Collection
(Activities recommended for 5+)
Set designers often use smaller-scale models to test their ideas, before creating the version that goes on the stage. There are many of these models in the V&A collection.
Look at some of these models for set design; some of them have brighter colours than others. Some designs have figures like animals, while others only have simple shapes which could become many things in performance. Square, circle, and triangle … what do you think these shapes could represent?
What stories can you imagine happening on these stage sets?
Colour, shape and texture for a season
It’s now your turn to think like a set designer.
Pick a season as a starting point for your design. These are some questions to help you think about this season.
- What do you like – or not like – about the weather right now?
- How does the season make you feel?
- What kinds of colours, shapes or textures can you find in nature at the moment?
For example, you might pick a winter theme. Winter makes me think of outdoor walks on a cold sunny day. And I would be well wrapped in a big coat and a scarf.
Now, look around your home, and find materials and objects that have colours or textures that remind you of the season.
What can you find at home?
Create a shoebox set design
Let’s create a set design in a box!
You will need: an old shoebox or cardboard box with a lid, scissors, cellophane x 2 colours, decorative materials (found objects from a previous activity, modelling clay, pipe cleaners, kitchen foil etc.), glue, torch.
1. Create a peep hole and skylights on the box
Cut 2 windows on the lid, which will create a lighting effect, and 1x window on the side of the box, which will be a peep hole.
Once you created windows using scissors, put 2 layers of cellophane to cover the holes on the lid.
Now you have the base for your set design!
2. Create a set design inside the box
Now is the time for you to get creative with the materials you found at home.
Cotton wool made us think of snowy ground. We also used kitchen foil to create a sparkly effect to represent frosty plants and trees.
Keep looking through the peep hole to see what else you might want to add in your design.
3. Play with light!
Now is the fun part! Look inside the box through the peep hole and use a torch to put the light through different angles. You will see the coloured cellophane will create different effects.
If you enjoyed making a set in a box, why not putting your toys as characters in your set design, and create your own performance?
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