Andrew Baseman interview: ‘Severance’ set decorator
“In Mrs. Selvig’s house, you see a little bit of a sampler on the wall when she’s spying on Mark across the way,” reveals Andrew Baseman, the set decorator for “Severance” on AppleTV+. “It says something like ‘We must be cut to heal,’ and that was a little something that Dan Erickson wrote. I said, ‘We need some curisms…that if a nosey neighbor peered into the windows it wouldn’t tip off too much. I did it as a needlepoint sampler. Ben [Stiller] liked it so much that he moved it from the kitchen wall to the dining room wall right next to the window. That’s one of my favorite pieces.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
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The nine-episode thriller premiered on February 18 and is about a sinister technology corporation, Lumon Industries, that uses a “severance” medical procedure to separate the non-work memories of some of their employees from their work memories. One severed employee, Mark (played by Adam Scott), gradually uncovers a web of conspiracy from both sides of the division.
“Severance” also stars Patricia Arquette, Zach Cherry, Britt Lower, Tramell Tillman, John Turturro and Christopher Walken. Baseman collaborated with production designer Jeremy Hindle to create the bleak, yet intriguing space inside of Lumon Industries. “When I interviewed for the job, Jeremy showed me his mood boards,” Baseman explains. “It was filled with incredible images. He found a design vocabulary and a color palette that we used throughout the project. He hit the nail on the head from the beginning. [Part of that] was to have a palette of green for for the ‘severed’ area.”
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One of the most important pieces to create was the cubicle area for Mark, Dylan, Helly and Irving. “To have one desk floating in this sea of green carpet and white walls…we had to get that right,” Baseman says. “Jeremy did some research and actually designed a desk we called the quad. It was the four stations and the wall dividers that went up and down to give privacy and to reveal the characters next to them. [We wanted] that one singular unit to be a sculpture, but also be a functional desk for them. I found the chairs. They were a really bland, gray, contemporary chair that didn’t speak of a period. They’re neither vintage and cool or contemporary and beautiful. They’re just functional. The monitors were custom designed based on earlier models of computers. We purposely made them look like toys.”
Baseman has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy, a Critics Choice Award and five Art Directors Guild awards throughout his career. He won the Art Directors Guild Award for Best Production Design in a Contemporary Film for his work on “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018.