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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Set design model by Marcel Jambon for an 1895 Paris production of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello.
Set design for New Zealand Opera 2016 production of Mozart's Magic Flute
Scenic design, The 2010 Family Series, by Glenn Davis
A simple red curtain set design for the Oresteia presented by Stairwell Theater, 2019

Scenic design (also known as scenography, stage design, or set design) is the creation of theatrical scenery. Scenic designers create sets and scenery that aims to support the overall artistic goals of the production. There has been some consideration over whether there is a difference between scenic design and production design; however, the latter is generally considered to be a part of the visual production of a film or television.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Working In The Theatre: Scenic Design
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  • Production Design — Filmmaking Techniques for Directors: Ep2
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  • Behind the Scenes Episode 3: Set Design Principles | Emil and the Detectives


Scenic designer

The scenic designer works with the director and other designers to establish an overall visual concept for the production and design of the stage environment. They are responsible for developing a complete set of design drawings that include the following:

  • basic ground plan showing all stationary and scenic elements.
  • composite ground plan showing all moving scenic elements, indicating both their onstage and storage positions.
  • section of the stage space incorporating all elements.
  • front elevations of every scenic element, and additional elevations or sections of units as required.

Many scenic designers use 3D CAD models to produce these design drawings.[1]

In the process of planning, scenic designers often make models.[2] Models are often made before the final drawings that are delivered to the scene shop for construction.[2]

The new era of scenic design in shows and events

In the 21st century, the realm of stage design has undergone a transformative evolution, moving far beyond the traditional curtains and backdrops of yesteryears. Today's stage design stands at the intersection of technology, art, and experiential storytelling. With the advent of cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality, holography, and 3D projection mapping[3], designers are crafting immersive environments that captivate audiences, blurring the lines between reality and imagination. Sustainable and modular designs also echo the global call for environmental responsibility. As audiences crave deeper, more sensory experiences, the stage has become a dynamic canvas for designers to challenge perceptions, evoke emotions, and truly transport viewers to otherworldly realms. Welcome to the new era of stage design, where every show is an unforgettable journey[4].


Scenic designer Robert Edmond Jones (1887-1954) drawing at a waist-high table (c. 1920).

The scenic designer is responsible for collaborating with the theatre director and other members of the creative team to create an environment for the production. Scenic designers are responsible for creating scale models of the scenery, renderings, paint elevations, and scale construction drawings as part of their communication with other production staff. Communicating the details of the scenic environment to the technical director, production manager, charge scenic artist and prop master are among the most important duties of a scenic designer.


In Europe and Australia,[5] scenic designers take a more holistic approach to theatrical design and will often be responsible not only for scenic design, but costume, lighting and sound, and are referred to as theatre designers or scenographers, or production designers.

Notable set designers

Notable scenic designers, past and present, include: Adolphe Appia, Boris Aronson, Alexandre Benois, Alison Chitty, Antony McDonald, Barry Kay, Caspar Neher, Cyro Del Nero, Aleksandra Ekster, David Gallo, Edward Gordon Craig, Es Devlin, Ezio Frigerio, Christopher Gibbs, Franco Zeffirelli, George Tsypin, Howard Bay, Inigo Jones, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Jo Mielziner, John Lee Beatty, Josef Svoboda, Ken Adam, Léon Bakst, Luciano Damiani, Maria Björnson, Ming Cho Lee, Natalia Goncharova, Nathan Altman, Nicholas Georgiadis, Oliver Smith, Ralph Koltai, Emanuele Luzzati, Neil Patel, Robert Wilson, Russell Patterson, Brian Sidney Bembridge, Santo Loquasto, Sean Kenny, Todd Rosenthal, Robin Wagner, Tony Walton, Louis Daguerre, Ralph Funicello, and Roger Kirk.

See also

Theatre decor by Reginald Gray for The Wood of the Whispering by M. J. Molloy


  1. ^ "Scenic Designer | Yale Undergraduate Production". Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  2. ^ a b Pincus-Roth, Zachary (2008-01-31). "ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Sets". Playbill. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  3. ^ "How 3D Projection Mapping Works". Lumenarius. Retrieved 2023-09-13.
  4. ^ subic, meg (2021-09-01). "9 concert stage designs that will blow your mind". Indie88. Retrieved 2023-09-13.
  5. ^ "Training as a Theatre Designer". Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London article.

Further reading

  • Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States by Oscar G. Brockett, Margaret Mitchell, and Linda Hardberger (Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, distributed by University of Texas Press; 2010) 365 pages; traces the history of scene design since the ancient Greeks.
  • Designing and Painting for the Theater by Lynn Pecktal. (McGraw-Hill, 1995 - Performing Arts - 601 pages) Detailing production design for theater, opera, and ballet, Designing and Drawing for the Theater is a foundational text that provides a professional picture and encyclopedic reference to the design process. Well-illustrated with detailed lined drawings and photographs, the book conveys the beauty and craft of scenic and production design.

External links

  • Media related to Scenography at Wikimedia Commons
  • Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space - the largest scenography event in the world - presenting contemporary work in a variety of performance design disciplines and genres - costume, stage, light, sound design, and theatre architecture for dance, opera, drama, site-specific, multi-media performances, and performance art, etc., Prague, CZ
  • What is Scenography Article illustrating the differences between US and European theatre design practices.
This page was last edited on 18 September 2023, at 15:42
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