Scarlet Winter

4th January 2022 – Set designer and prop stylist Scarlet Winter for 12 years

Different areas of set design:

  • Film, TV, Music Videos (production design) known as Art Direction,
  • Fashion editorial, which is magazine work,
  • Advertising which can be well paid which makes it worthwhile as fillers for the unpaid work,
  • Event & Styling merges with interior design route, location and supply lines are involved with this segment.
  • Retail & Pop-ups are a 360 experience that requires a lot of admin work to make everything cohesive, so communication is key.

Unpaid work is worth it for the promotion aspect and freedom of artistic direction.

She did a fine art degree doing sculptural work from St Martins in 2008. She talks about the impact of the recession on her career and how difficult work was to find as she was just starting out. Her positive take is that she had done voluntary work that gave her a good start, giving her experience in the sector and admin tasks.

She talked about funding for her creative practice. She found a funding agency that supported her in her endeavours. She had made contacts within her course that gave her access to the festival set-up, which gave her even more connections.

During her time at Whoopee club, she got picked up as an installation work for the Glastonbury festival whilst she felt it was in shambles, but it did teach her to be more prepared in the future.

She got an internship to work on Fantastic Mr Fox – the little projects gave her hope and more experience in the industry.

She was involved with an event from the Whoopee club, a theatre performance piece.

Felt that she had to leave the creative industry during the recession and worked for the arts charity that first funded her as an event producer in the education division. She worked in independent shops, which allowed her more freedom to move back and forth with her career.

In the winter, she moved to Berlin and started work experience at a theatre as an intern. She met people that led her to make a small stage show.

Moved back to England after 6-7 months over there.

Phoebe Lewis – Event and Interior Designer. It was a contact that helped her really build her network by involving her in projects that she was on.

Worked with Rhea Thierstein + Tim Walker, a fashion photographer who works with vogue, love magazine.

It allowed her to make things with prop making, which she had missed. Being a freelance assistant under Rhea allowed her to learn techniques and use the experience she had gained from other areas in her work.

She moved on to assisting Shona Heath for 10 years, tackling editorial photoshoots. Some of the works were for love magazine and art galleries. Teamwork and making contacts are a must in the industry.

Found that furniture and upholstery were an area of interest.

From being an assistant, she learned project management skills and how to manage clients.

Did a window set design for Harrods, specifically for Alexander Mcqueen windows. Floral design piece.

Lisa Eldritch Pop up installation.

The project was up for 3 months, taught her role as a set designer and created a brand identity around the project.

Her ideas on the role of the set designer for the project:

  • Respond to a brief by listening, mirroring and adding embellishments.
  • Be broad with the research and find inspiration from anywhere.
  • Pitching the concept, clients like hand drawings and mood-boards
  • Client management and building good relationships whilst balancing issues.
  • Budget control, work with suppliers and delegate where you need to.
  • Prop making, styling, costume and styling event staff can be involved.

Event Design

For Spotify as art director, she could do from a distance covering delegation and handing over to a producer when needed. Diageo is another event styling for a competition that had to be done in a tight time scale of one week. Nine hundred people were on set to get it ready for 12 different areas. She was the producer of the project and was involved with the logistics.

TV and Film:

Channel 4 filming for random acts – prop making, styling and art direction whilst collaborating with the film director. She was involved with setting up the in-between segments with the model in an editorial style.

Music Video

Girli – tight budget on the budget, working on new ways around the budget. The 90s look with mirrors and boxes. She enjoyed it even though it was difficult.

Fashion Editorial

Also done on a budget, which is fairly normal for fashion editorial, spring/summer collections, a collaborative effort with the makeup artists, stylists and director/photographer team, the DIY approach is often needed and problem-solving


Perfume Campaign Jo Malone (Two Projects): Flower oriented shoots, creative freedom in this project and stop motion were involved. She had the experience in the area when the others didn’t, which was positive.

Fashion Campaign – Stella Macartney SS21

Difficult project to manage due to not being able to be on set because of the pandemic. Had a week lead time, a styling gauge was used by mood boarding to get the look and feel. Design approaches had to be explored. Lots of planning had to be prepared upfront. Requiring specific blueprints for each segment for people to work from

What I’ve taken from the lecture:

Skills for being an assistant and some that fit any career:

  • Be on time, phone away, don’t take photos, be willing to help, and with a smile.
  • Write everything down when getting tasks.
  • If you are unsure, ask questions (try not to assume) to avoid making mistakes.
  • Develop good working relationships around you. They can become good allies and connections for other jobs.
  • Be understanding of the hierarchy on set and read the room.
  • Anticipate what is needed – How can you help
  • Learn while you are there (What design methods are used, client interaction, budget management, presentation, learn from others’ mistakes.)