Visual Confections

The Grand Budapest Hotel sign itself, up on the roof of the hotel, is my favourite example. It was based on an old steel hotel sign from 1930s Cairo that Wes had picked out. I hand-drew the lettering for our own hotel in the same style, somewhat unevenly, with rather jaunty serifs, and then gave the drawing to our model-makers who sculpted it for the hotel miniature. I remember they corrected the rather wide kerning between the letters A and N, and we asked them to widen it again just like it was in the reference. It’s the little idiosyncrasies like this that Wes loves – it’s all part of his aesthetic. On the one hand he’s a perfectionist; on the other hand he doesn’t want anything to look machine-made, or digitally produced in any way.

Annie Atkins, Graphic Designer for the Grand Budapest Hotel at Fast Design

There is so much to like about “The Grand Budapest Hotel” movie. But the overall look of the movie really amazed me. I have not seen all of Wes Andersen’s movies, but the design of this one made it my favorite. The level of detail is astounding. As Annie Atkins states in her interview “There’s probably more to graphics in film than is immediately apparent. If a character has a notice board in his office, for example, then you have to fill that board with relevant material, all in the right style for both the period and the director’s vision. You’re not always designing for the camera: much of this work will never be seen by a cinema audience, but still you have to create an atmosphere and a world for the actors to work their magic in.”

I suppose this is true of any movie or tv show, but it seems especially important when creating an alternate version of our world.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but the shots of Mendl’s pastries and that giant, pink cake of a hotel, were very fitting for the main part of the story – which was framed within multiple stories, each occurring decades after the previous one. They seemed to reflect how sweet those memories were to the narrators.

Leave a Reply