The second season of “Russian Doll” sees Nadia (Natasha Lyonne, who is also the show’s co-creator and showrunner) travel back in time to the 1980s via a subway car. As the posters for “Cats” and the movie “Sophie’s Choice” appear, Nadia sees a newspaper. The year is 1982.
Not only does Nadia travel through time, but she also finds herself in the body of her pregnant mother, Lenora, aka Nora, played by Chloë Sevigny.
Diane Lederman stepped in as production designer, succeeding Michael Bricker, to build the ’80s world, including Lenora’s pink apartment.
Lederman was inspired by a 1986 film directed by David Lynch. “Season 2’s look is influenced by many films and authors from 70s and 80s cinema, with David Lynch being a big part of it,” she says. “While looking for a hook for this set, I happened to revisit ‘Blue Velvet’. This apartment in this film is iconic of the 1980s, without being too kitschy, a perfect reference for our period style.
A lover of deeply rich, dark colors, Lederman found a deep, “almost black” green for the doors and trim that complemented the vintage look. “We added exaggerated 80s decor, like the white dolphin figure, black lacquer and glass coffee table and brass fan above the bed, to support the idea that Nora is spending money lightly.”
With Nora’s house filled with clutter, Lederman also filled it with whimsical objects to visualize Lenora’s erratic behavior and to show the impracticality of the dreamer that she is. “This apartment represented a better life for Nora, a life beyond her mother’s reach. Of course, the irony is that her mother was paying the bills.
In the apartment, the pink and black tiled bathroom was Lederman’s favorite set to design. And in the first episode where Nadia and Lenora interact, Lederman has found a way to build a double set so that Sévigny and Lyonne are not satisfied only with visual effects.
“We built a double together, a mirror image of each other, a hole where the mirror should go,” she says. “Each item was a custom mirror copy of the other, including the designed art poster, which was printed upside down for the mirror side of the set. When Nadia sees herself as her mom, Natasha holds on one side, and Chloë on the other.
When Nadia sees herself as herself, a mirror is placed over the gap between the two sets. It was a great trick and so much fun to design.