November 10,2023

The Architectural Digest Greenroom

by David Stewart

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Stephen Shadley is no stranger to big Hollywood productions—or to what it takes to pull one off. "When I started out, I worked as a scenic artist at 20th Century Fox," says the native Angeleno turned New Yorker. "In those days backdrops used to be hand-painted." Later he turned to interior design, and he has counted an array of stars among his clients. For the Architectural Digest Greenroom at the 81st Annual Academy Awards, Shadley was able to draw on his extensive Tinseltown experience, creating an oasis reminiscent of a chic 1970s pad atop the Hollywood Hills—one that was "quiet and contemplative, with a soft palette so no matter what someone was wearing, it would look good," he explains.

The centerpiece of the space tucked just off stage at the Kodak Theatre was a photographic backdrop of the city taken from Mulholland Drive. In a fitting turn of events, the image came from the scene shop where he first worked. The backdrop gave the greenroom's famous visitors "a sense of being outside for a moment," he remarks. "They could look at the sky and gather their thoughts."

Shadley employed a few other tools from his Hollywood bag of tricks to make it feel a little bit more like home. "I had just finished a project that had massive stone walls and huge expanses of glass," he reports. The designer was so happy with the results, "I had a scene shop replicate the stone. When you looked at it, you had the sense that they were real," he says.

The simulated-stone walls also served to break up the space (about 900 square feet), adding to its domestic vibe. So did the wood floors and shag rug—which prompted some to take their shoes off—and the dropped ceiling ("Most sets have open ceilings," he notes). The result was a hit, even for a crowd well versed in movie illusions. As Shadley puts it, "The wood floors, the stone walls and the vista: It's all that Hollywood magic that people love!"

  • David Stewart
  • November 10,2023

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