[Around Town] The Barbican celebrates 50 years of design for the James Bond franchise
Summary: An exploration of the innovative gadgets, stylish clothes and futuristic sets of the James Bond franchise, this exhibition gathers together Bond fans’ favourite memorabilia, including Oddjob’s bowler hat, Scaramanga’s golden gun (complete with golden bullet), original call sheets from Dr No and a room full of Q’s weapons.
Highlights: Lucky production designer Ken Adam was asked to create sets that designers and architects outside the world of film can only dream about, and several of his original sketches are on show. Adam’s aim was to create sets that looked ‘slightly ahead of contemporary’, and his designs included the laser table on which Bond is nearly sliced in two as well as the set for Fort Knox in Goldfinger, the volcano headquarters of Ernst Blofeld in You Only Live Twice and the space station in Moonraker, then the biggest film set ever built in France.
Low points: Architects will notice that although we learn about the sets created for the Bond films, no mention is made of the many real buildings chosen for their unique character or modernist architecture. These include Elrod House (Diamonds are Forever), the Sheats-Goldstein Residence (License to Kill) and the ESO Paranal Residencia in Chile (Quantum of Solace). Also, the exhibition has many great artefacts but is light on commentary.
Curatorial comment: ‘Over time, Bond films have resonated beyond cinema to convey a distinctly unrestrained British luxuriance influencing half a [century] of design and technology. Designing 007 explores the creative process involved, from the blueprint stages to the final product.’
Final word: Great fun for Bond fans, and a chance to see some of cinema’s most famous props. We get an insight into the design process that went into the films, but little analysis of how these designs affected the world outside the Bond franchise.
Designing 007 – Fifty Years of Bond Style at the Barbican
Barbican Centre, London
Until 5th September. Sun-Wed 11am-8pm, Thu-Sat 10am-9.30pm
Tickets: £12, concessions £10