Production designer Deborah Riley discusses her most challenging sets

701 - Dragonstone - Daenerys 6

Ahead of this Sunday’s Bafta TV Craft Award where Deborah Riley may win an award, Digital Spy caught up with the set designer to talk about her team’s proudest moments and most challenging designs.

In the interview, Riley discusses some of the sets she is most proud of, including the Meereen Audience Chamber from season four, the Hall of Faces from season five and her personal favorite, the Dragonstone Audience Chamber from season seven, which she considers “the strongest and most original space” her team has ever built.

The Hall of Faces in the House of Black and White, in turn, ranks as the most expensive single element in the show, with over 600 prosthetic faces needed: “I remember these being an issue as no-one imagined that we would need the kind of numbers that we did,” she comments. “The budget for them was a massive issue at the time.”

Arya in the Hall of Faces on Game of Thrones

Riley also reveals some of the more unusual influences on her work, including the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Mayan Revival period of the 1920s, and Thrones’ own Michele Clapton’s dragon scale detailing on Daenerys’ costume.

Finally, she discusses the most random prop the set design team ever had to create, which was of course Joffrey’s fabulous dove pie from the Purple Wedding. Shame that pie was a bit dry! For more about that and everything else, read the full interview here.

19 responses

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    1. I love Frank Lloyd Wright and was fortunate enough to attend several conferences at his Monona Terrace.

      Though the HoBaW faces were expensive at the time, won’t they be able to recoup much of those expenses by selling them at some point? I know many fans would love a face from the show’s actual HoBaW.

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    2. “The Hall of Faces in the House of Black and White, in turn, ranks as the most expensive single element in the show, with over 600 prosthetic faces needed: “I remember these being an issue as no-one imagined that we would need the kind of numbers that we did,” she comments. “The budget for them was a massive issue at the time.”
      ————————-

      Well of course No One imagined it.

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    3. The set design on the show is really amazing! Especially the HoBaW. It is definitely one of the most iconic sets of the show. I just wish we had spent more time there in season 5 getting to know a bit more about the FM.

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    4. Funny, as much as I adore the sets on the show 99% of the time, and those guys really do an outstanding job on this, the Dragonstone throne room was a little disappointing (in terms of style).

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    5. I still love the Castle Black set more than most of the others as well as what lies North of the Wall, but pretty much every set on this show has been top notch.

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    6. I liked the dragonstone throne room alot, particularly the roughly carved look of the wooden throne. Of the dragonstone sets, my fave is the map room, somehow cozy and imposing all at once

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    7. Both the Hall of Faces and Dragonstone have delicious Gothy aesthetic. HoF gave an immediate sense of the vast history and influence of the Faceless Men – no exposition necessary. I loved how Daenerys contrasts with her surroundings in the Dragonstone throne room, as opposed to Mereen, where she seemed an integral part of the overall look. On first watch, one can be quite distracted by some production detail, lose track of the storytelling, and have to re-wind. I do hope that this brilliant group receive the respect, and commensurate compensation that they have earned.

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    8. 3eyes:
      …. Daenerys contrasts with her surroundings in the Dragonstone throne room, as opposed to Mereen, where she seemed an integral part of the overall look……

      It was interesting when Danaerys said in S7E2 that Dragonstone didn’t feel like home (paraphrase). That along with her comments in the Dragonpit (S7E7) with regard to the decline of her family after the conquest of Westeros (‘this place was the beginning of the end for my people’- paraphrase) makes me think she may not have a strong desire to remain in Westeros/KL/Dragonstone if her and Jon’s forces win….

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    9. There were so many places to like a lot, I’d never saw a show with that kind of fantastic chosen and build settings. But I liked most the hall of faces. It made my heart and mind trembling, filled with fear and curiosity; something was stirred up deep inside.

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    10. Jon Snowed:
      Must be weird for her because her work on Thrones will come to an end in the next couple of months.

      With GoT on her resumé, it’s likely she won’t have too much time to grieve 😀

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    11. krupke: It was interesting when Danaerys said in S7E2 that Dragonstone didn’t feel like home (paraphrase). That along with her comments in the Dragonpit (S7E7) with regard to the decline of her family after the conquest of Westeros (‘this place was the beginning of the end for my people’- paraphrase) makes me think she may not have a strong desire to remain in Westeros/KL/Dragonstone if her and Jon’s forces win….

      Jon/Aegon, and their offspring, may change her mind, but so far, Westerosi see her as an outsider. Also, she said that the Targeryans were like everyone else without the dragons, but she was “unburnt” before the dragons. Will she pass this trait on to the baby? It will be interesting to see if/when/how this is resolved.

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    12. I thought the Dragonstone throne room was just awesome. When Jon walks in and sees Dany sitting on the throne… such an intimidating scene. She looked like a force to be reckoned with up there.

      My favorite part is definitely the throne itself. I thought it was perfectly made to resemble the rocks on the beach.

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