Here are some of the original sketches for Tony Stark's house. Production Designer Michael Riva mandated a Malibu cliffside home in the vein of John Lautner's really organic cast concrete & glass homes. The first designs were for set extensions of existing homes, but nothing we scouted looked like a billionaire's home. A few multi-millionaires homes but...
So I came up with this design and perched it in the most decadent location I could think of, right on top of Point Dume, a California State Park. Who else but a billionaire could get those building permits?
The garage under the cantilevered livingroom I really liked, looking out over the ocean between the buttresses. Since that's where Tony really lives, it should still have a nice view. The actual garage set is three times the size of the livingroom and would never fit in that space below, but thanks to the magic of movie geography, it's never apparent.
Master set designer Kevin Cross took these along with some loose elevations and built a beautiful model in Maya which the VFX companies used for reference. While the interiors were fully realized sets on stage, only the exterior of the living room balcony was practical, the rest of the exterior of the house is a CG model composited into plates of Point Dume.
I'll put up some of the interior designs next.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Tony Stark's house design...
Posted by Phil Saunders at 4:06 PM
Labels: architecture, Iron Man, set design, Tony Stark
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Whoopie! I get to be the first to comment! Awesome! This is stunning design and beautiful rendering. I love the creamy solid feel of the structure. It breathes the opulence and excess of Stark's origins. Fantastic work Phil! I can't wait to see more:) -Ray
Guy your concepts are awesome!!
i love the concepts of the stark's house!
Waiting for more!
This is really amazing work and I hope Ill see more of you soon....
Your job is probably the one I always dreamed of... so enjoy it ;-)))
Great stuff Phil! Thanks for the lovely comment on Conceptart.org about my comic strip. I've linked my blog to you.
What were some of your references/inspirations for this style of architecture?
Just saw Iron Man for the third time - haha - what can I say? I loved it. Great job for your contributions :)
Love your stuff man.~! :)
I knew the minute I saw Tony Starks house that it was designed by a true fan of John Lautners. I’m now a huge fan of your work. I was born in California and grew up with Techno Optimism or Googie architecture all around me. I now own a sales and marketing agency for the kitchen and bath industry that specializes in mid-century or California Modern. I would love to see some pic’s of the interior of the house, in my opinion, they got that right as well. Truly “Organic Contemporary”
I don't usually do this, write letters that might be considered self-congratulatory but after reading some of these blog reactions to Phil's version of the origin of the Iron Man house design, I feel compelled to clarify and inform people of what a Production Designer and his crew actually do for a living and to educate all those who might aspire to join our ranks one day (Re: "Your job is probably the one I always dreamed of...") As Production Designer on Iron Man (and curently on IM 2) I feel compelled to set the record straight. Phil is an extraordinary talent, who deservedly, along with many others, shares the credit for much of the success of Iron Man. But the implication that any one element of the movie was designed by just one person with simply 'a mandate' from the production designer is ridiculous!
With all due respect to Phil Saunders' incredible (and I mean that!) contribution to Iron Man, I take grave exception to his disnegenous suggestion that he 'came up with' the design of the house and 'placed it at Point Dume.' .
Production Design involves a complicated process. It's important to realize that most all initial overall design concepts come from conversations between the director and the Production Designer. This is how it's done-believe me-I've been doing it for over 30 years. The final choice of the architecture of John Lautner as inspiration for the house was my choice alone-I have used him as inspiration before (Charlie's Angeles, Lethal Weapon). Many other designers have in the past. In this case the house design started with a few quick 'napkin' sketches I made early on (which I still have...). After this initial stage, the production designer begins a collaboration with all of his department to bring the idea to life-which included in this case steps Phil forgot to mention : hours of design with our remarkable set designer Kevin Cross, consultations and design choices made with our research department which helped choose surface textures, fixtures, misc. design elements, set dressing concerns, visual effects meetings, etc. This included location surveys I made and final location choices which I did (without Phil's help. I then ) relied on s Phil's relying prodigious coolaborative spirit and design intuition to bring it make it better and bring it all together in his beautiful illustrations. The point is, Phil was handed more than just a 'mandate.'
This is what we do as Production Designers. We design the overall look of the film-and we try to make it look seamless and anonymous-the narrative deserves all the attention-not the design. If it were not for all the others in my department none of it would make it to the screen. It's a joint effort where everyone participates-admittedly, Phil was a huge part of this. He and I have done many things together in the past. But in this case his recounting or the impression he gives of the overall process is misleading. Unintentionally so, I'm sure. .
Wallace Cunningham, John Lautner, Bruce Goff (see Friends of Kebyar), and Frank Lincoln Wright all worked alone, and actually completed real projects. To a trained eye, the house in Iron Man was comic book tripe, beginning with the disproportion of interior to exterior spaces, and especially when Iron Man crashes through a reinforced concrete roof and a reinforced concrete floor structure. Which producers nephew forced that into the script? That was right up there with the "suddenly flipping/flying cars" that have taken over Hollywood. It reduced this movie to the goofy moto scenes in Charlies Angels. Suspension of disbelief is the mantra, but remember that architects and engineers like to enjoy the same visual pleasure, not just laughable multi-million dollar script masturbation.
I recently visited Cunningham's Razor residence in La Jolla, and the lair and shop are real. It's interesting to hear Michael Riva's arrogance against the pure excitement towards the project displayed by Phil. They make it sound like they did more than some sketches and rendering in Maya, followed by some unlimited budget props in a warehouse, all after seeing some of John's work in the neighborhood, and going to a cocktail party to tell the world of their newfound design skills.
I do like your concept renderings Phil, you have a nice touch.
I basically have had this image in my head of my dream home, you hit the nail on the head Phil, thanks. Mine's mostly in glass though, but I'm definitely re-thinking my design after seeing yours! Brilliant!
Wow, I just looked back on this thread after a couple of years (yeah, I know, I'm the worst blogger of all time...) and came across my production designer Michael Riva's comment.
He is of course, absolutely right - design for film is a completely collaborative process, and I never meant to imply that the design came from my mind alone.
Anyone who's browsed my blog can attest to the fact that I make a point to celebrate my collaborators and give them their due. I’m dismayed that Mike, with whom I’ve enjoyed a long and fruitful association, and for whom there has been no lack of deserved public and critical acclaim and credit for his art direction of Iron Man, should feel slighted by my failure to emphasize his role in directing this design, in a forum who’s purpose is ultimately to promote my work in the absence of the kind of media attention and screen credit that is naturally awarded department heads such as himself.
My role as concept designer is to take the brief (or “mandate,” whatever word you chose) of the production designer and “come up with” designs that fulfill that direction. By no means do I mean to attribute to myself any of the decision-making authority reserved for the production designer, short of what goes into the designs that I propose. And I do recall having suggested Point Dume, though I could be misremembering of course, and either way the ultimate decision would have been Michael’s.
Authorship of any design in this context is often a delicate subject, as we all become proprietary with so much investment of time and love in a project. Ultimately the lion's share of credit for this house should go to John Lautner himself. The visual vocabulary that makes it unique is pure Lautner, and the bulk of the details and material choices are liberally cribbed from his existing houses, with the express intent of making this appear to be a "lost Lautner." As I stated, the choice of Lautner as a model did indeed come from Michael, and this final design was the end of an evolution that took many turns before ending up where it did.
Kevin Cross did a beautiful pass at a more geometric cedar house (featured in the art book), and my friend Harald Belker did a version based on Michael Riva's Lautner-inspired sketches of a circular glass space intersected by a tapered wedge.
The final design here evolved from B&W sketches I did (from the same angle as the B&W sketch at top) of that essentially symmetrical design of Michael's. If I claim to have "come up" with the current design, it's because Michael, to my recollection, gave me free reign to explore around that basic idea of a central circular Lautner-esque glass and cast concrete shape cantilevered over steep bluffs, and I developed the multi-level, spiral-roofed, tree-fungus-like forms organically integrated into the landscape that you see here.
Mike Riva and the director approved it and I hope it goes without saying that the final resolution of the design accommodating the production process and the needs of filmmaking were achieved under his direction and through a great deal of collaboration with all of the myriad artists and technicians who comprised the film's art, construction and visual effects departments. Kevin Cross's contributions, particularly in the design of the interior sets, cannot be overstated, as the interpreting of a concept design into an actual, practical, buildable and filmable set is an art in itself that involves a great deal of difficult and creative problem-solving.
That said, the final design is for the most part unchanged in broad strokes from what you see in the two original sketches at the top of this post, and they weren't an illustration of anyone's previous sketches, floor plans or models. The shapes, layout proportion and gesture are my own. I will concede that "came up with" oversimplifies the process, but the implication that the work of the concept designer is a simple visualization of the ideas and vision of someone else (as is further suggested by the official but deliberately misleading credit of “illustrator”) is equally disingenuous.
Gosh!This Tony's stark house was awesome and I really love it.How I wish to have this someday.The architec has an impeccable taste. I think living there is like hevean.Thank you for this wonderful blog.God bless.
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Can you send my a copy of the floor plan because I'm making a scale model and that would really help
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