Video interview with Kurt and Bart (‘Foundation’ costume designers)
“I think sci-fi, for us, is a really good fit,” the designer said. Kurt Swanson says about the beauty of designing for science fiction, where artists working behind the scenes on the enormous task of constructing the look of a show can push the envelope as far as the story takes them. “We came from fashion before we started making movies, but sci-fi and fantasy, those worlds, there really are no rules. It’s really exciting for us when there’s no rules, to dive in and look at each of these worlds and understand what this world is built on, what their resources are, all that kind of stuff is our springboard to designing something like this,” says Swanson.
Swanson, who alongside collaborator Bart Muller make up the design team of Kurt and Bartare renowned for their elaborate and innovative style, which they have transformed from their experience in fashion design into the otherworldly looks created for genre classics such as “The Hunger Games”, “Ghost in the Shell” and now the Apple TV+ epic space opera “Foundation.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
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“Foundation” is based on the series of short stories and novels by an acclaimed author isaac asimovand is created by David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight”) and Josh Friedman (“Avatar 2”). After premiering on Apple TV+ last fall, the streamer was so confident about its future that it renewed the show for a second season before the first season ended.
The series features the Emmy nominees Lee Pace (“Growing Daisies”) and Jared Harris (“Mad Men” and “Chernobyl”), alongside a huge cast including Lou Llobell, Lea Harvey, Laura Birn, Terrence Man, Daniel MacPherson and Cassian Bilton. It tells the millennial saga of a band of exiles and a galactic empire in decline, through a vast universe of civilizations.
Kurt and Bart were responsible for designing the myriad of looks that feature throughout the series pilot, including the Roman Empire-inspired costumes worn by the Emperor at the royal court of Trantor, the intricate utilitarian patterns worn on distant Terminus, the organic looks worn by Ga’al and his tribe on the ocean planet Synnax and the elaborate and exotic designs worn by the warring outlying kingdoms of the delegates of Anacreon and Thespis, two looks that could not to be more diametrically opposed as one is a bronze, scaly creation of a bark-like hooded robe, the other a geometric, translucent teal robe.
It’s no coincidence that their work often evokes an avant-garde aesthetic that one might encounter at the Met Gala, given their runway past. “It’s funny you mentioned the Met Gala because before every show, but especially this one, we go to the Met,” Mueller reveals. “We’re based in New York, and the Metropolitan Museum has an insane collection, including there was a lot of Inuit and watery clothing there, and so in fact, Gaal’s coat that she wears and that everyone with the big hood is really based on that Inuit design,” he says. “But also, in a literal sense, maybe they’re making their clothes out of seaweed,” Swanson adds. “What are their real resources in this aquaculture? We partnered with this company that does some really innovative things with leather and they actually do transparent leather. So that’s what those coats were; I mean they were really almost like seaweed.
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