Loren Weeks Interview: ‘Dickinson’ production designer
“Dickinson” is “an exploration and a celebration of the creative spirit,” explains production designer Loren Weeks. The show’s subject, writer Emily Dickinson, “was way ahead of her time,” which is something the series tries to capture in its stylistic approach. Watch our exclusive video interview with Weeks above.
Hailee Steinfeld stars in the Apple TV+ original as the famed poet when she was an aspiring writer fighting against the dictums of Victorian society. In telling Dickinson’s story, creator Alena Smith brings anachronistic dialogue and attitudes to the 19th century trappings. Having never worked on a period piece before, Weeks was intrigued by the approach. This clearly “was not going to be ‘Downton Abbey.’ It was very different and very fresh.” It “allowed for a lot of exploration and riffing on the period,” as well as comparisons to our current era, “how it’s very different, but at the same time there’s a lot of similarities.”
Weeks wanted to be “honest to the time period” in order to show that contrast. “We did a lot of research” and found vendors that still created wallpapers and carpeting matching those from the era. Yet at the same time, “I didn’t want to be beholden to that time period. We weren’t doing a documentary.” Because “a lot of times the patterns and colors” decorating people’s homes “were just jarring and fought against each other, I decided I would bring a more contemporary sensibility to how those patterns and colors were combined and responded to one another.”
Before he started work Weeks visited the Dickinson museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, where they have fully restored the author’s bedroom. “Emily loved the outdoors,” so he “wanted to bring in a sense of the outdoors, of springtime in her room,” including floral wallpaper and apple-colored wood trimmings.
Before “Dickinson” Weeks was better known for his work as a production designer on contemporary TV shows like “Gossip Girl,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and Marvel’s Netflix dramas “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist.”