Grace Alie (‘PEN15’ production designer) on pulling from childhood memories: ‘My wall was definitely full of Leonardo DiCaprio’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Anna’s clear phone,” responds Grace Alie, the production designer for Hulu’s comedy “PEN15,” when asked which item she found most personally gratifying to add to the set. “I wanted one as a kid so bad and never got one. There are a lot of nostalgic, old things that I pulled from my childhood. There’s a beaded dolphin lamp in Maya’s room that was my sister’s.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“PEN15” stars Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine as middle school students encountering the daily drama of teenage life. Alie designed the set by collaborating with her art department and “pulling from everyone’s memories” to find those items to “bring the era alive.” A big part of that task was building bedrooms of children transitioning to adulthood. “Kids were so good at decorating in a thrifty way,” she says. “Tearing apart magazines and putting pictures up of their friends on the walls. Creating shrines and making it their own without it being permanent. My wall was definitely full of Leonardo DiCaprio. I loved ‘Titanic’ and that was my first crush.”

“It takes a while to get a mature bedroom if you ever do have one before you move on to college,” Alie continues. “A lot of times it’s relics of your past and stuff that you’re a little too old for. Probably stuff your mom picked out. We definitely wanted to create layers of their childhood and the top layer of what they think is ‘cool’ now.”

Alie recalls the changes they were allowed to make once the were renewed for a second season. “Season 1 was super challenging because of budget,” she explains. “We didn’t have a whole lot of money so we got very creative thrifting for things and making deals at prop houses. Season 2 we got more money and we were able to build a lot of sets. It was really fun and challenging to do all of those builds on a stage and the puzzle piece of what’s worth building for shooting purposes and what has the most scenes in it.”

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