Did Somebody Say
Director Dave Meyers
The real plaudits have to go the incredible costumers and set artisans who, through production designer François Audouy, have created one of the most audaciously arresting ads we've seen in quite some time.Jamie Madge, shots.net
- Chapter 1: Who’s House? Katy’s House!
- Chapter 2: Ding, Dong...Come On In!
- Chapter 3: Hallway? Funway!
- Chapter 4: A Dining Room Wonderland
- Chapter 5: Snacking in the Bath
- Chapter 6: An Ice Cream Dancing Extravaganza
- Chapter 7: Doggies, Sushi...and a Muppet
- Chapter 8: Walk in Fun Fridge
- Chapter 9: Continuity of Design
© JUST EAT
This spot for British food delivery company “Just Eats” was an opportunity to re-team with long-time collaborator Dave Meyers as director, on a project that seemed to grow daily in scope and ambition.
The project was initially pitched to me as a “dress job” in a lavish and opulent Beverly Hills mansion, in a curated way that would speak to Katy Perry’s distinct and playful brand. However, after several days of rowing in that direction, the current swept us 180º in another direction, to more challenging waters.
Perry wanted her fictional home to be as unconventional as possible, more of a PeeWee’s Playhouse type dollhouse than anything from reality. Perry pushed for the visuals to be stylized, not dissimilar to the scope and whimsy of the set pieces in her Las Vegas stage show called PLAY.
DID SOMEBODY SAY…KATY PERRY?
She inspired us to imagine a playground for her elaborate costumes, endearing sight gags and playful puppets. Meyers had always wanted “each scene to showcase another color in the ‘Katy carton box’—creating a vibrant rollercoaster ride filled with unexpected twists and turns that keeps our audience on bated breath” and Perry added to that sentiment by requesting the world to “be very K.P.”
A new direction—to build everything on stage—had the side-effect of basically building the airplane as we were flying it, as the initial deck was much more grounded than a commercial where every set, item of furniture and prop would need to be carefully considered, perhaps designed, and potentially manufactured.
Digital Matte Painting
I was given a design “carte blanche” so I pitched a litany of new ideas, including the idea of presenting Perry’s manor as a sort of full-size dollhouse with its facade missing.
I took inspiration from Jerry Lewis’ LADIES MAN (1961) with its three-story rooming house built on Stage 18 at Paramount. This intro gave us the opportunity to “lay the table” for the piece, teasing the audience with all of the rooms we would be introduced to during the following 60 second commercial.
The concept illustrations fell to my team at One Pixel Brush (OPB), lead by Creative Director Shaddy Safadi, whose team modeled the house based on dozens of references, and then built out a park-like garden inhabited by oversize topiary in the shapes of hamburgers, fries and cupcakes.
Coincidentally most of my records and eras have had food undertones to them, from strawberries to peppermint and now mushrooms.Katy Perry
In fact, most of the décor, furnishings and accents would have food connections, in either shape or color. Set Decorator Jill Crawford said “we used so many items, from mushrooms, pineapples, snails, bananas, turtles, pumpkins, lemons, to pomegranates, and made plates shaped like toast, bowls shaped like lettuce leaves, stools shaped like macarons, and side tables shaped like ice cream cones and shells.” The ideas for fun food connections were endless, it seemed.
Come On In!
Using the 3D data from OPB, There You Have it 3D SLA-printed the piece, and then added layers of gold and bronze onto the base coat to give it a weathered patina.
Meyers had a clear vision for a doorbell resembling Perry that would sing the lyrics to the new jingle for Just Eats.
OPB created several concepts of the prop, ranging from stylized to realistic. In order to simplify the VFX work, we built a practical prop, replete with posable eyes and mouth. Then the VFX team animated the doorbell using the poses as reference.
I took inspiration for the hallway from the striped exuberance of Dorothy Draper, and also the foyer of the Carson Mansion in Eureka.
I grounded the hall with a bold black-and-white striped Marlite floor, and put into effect a rigid color palette that would unify all the sets in the house.
Crawford and I thought it would be funny to line the hall with bespoke oil paintings of Perry’s imaginary dogs (dressed in regal human costumes naturally). This task went to Splendid Beast in Iowa. Katy loved the idea so much, she asked for one of her actual pups to be included as a portrait.
The original set design was to feature gold-plated pendant lights in the shape of cherries (custom manufactured, of course), but sadly these were eliminated by the client at the last minute.
A Dining Room
A “Katy Perry version of the Mad Hatter’s tea party” was the original direction for the dining room, and we ran with that concept, designed an airy space capped by a cross-vault ceiling. In the past, such a ceiling would probably take too long to fabricate, but with the ability to use CNC machines in conjunction with Rhino modeling software, those days are gone.
Crawford added the required levity to the space, manufacturing oversized carrot planters and a gigantic, oversized lemon chandelier (also sadly cut at the last minute). “We made the carrot planters out of sheet metal, which was scored, bent and riveted into a carrot shape, then planted with palms to look like carrot tops,” explained Crawford.
Ten Hollywood Regency chairs around the table were acquired, then painted and upholstered in orange. Floral arrangement with a food theme were added (herbs, persimmons, carrots, grape tomatoes on the vine, etc.), all designed by Jake Kale of Cobra Lily Flowers in Hollywood.
Perry’s bathroom evolved from a complete room, to a down shot on Perry eating a sandwich. The humor of the shot would come from the specific mosaic tile design, again visualized by the team at OPB, over many iterations.
The complicated mosaic tile was accomplished via CGI, as creating these practically would have proven too time-consuming. Many other designs for the space were considered, including Perry sounding in a bathtub made from a baguette and another with giant veggies raining down around her.
An Ice Cream Dancing
The largest set to build would be the grand ball room. For this, I took inspiration from Dorothy Draper’s resplendent Palácio Quitandinha in Rio de Janeiro and also Cedric Gibbons’ set design from OUR MODERN MAIDENS (1929). The checkered Marlite floor set off Neo-classical wall paneling accented by 19th Century block-printed wallpaper by Zuber et Cie.
The room required a tour-de-force effort from Jill Crawford. “Some things were easy, like the cupcake stools,” Crawford explained. “We found some large plant pots that were fluted similar to cupcake paper liners, and just put in some batting and poofy fabric in the top to look like a cupcake, then added some “sprinkles” (actually pieces of broken sidewalk chalk hot glued onto the tops).
“The ice cream sconces were relatively easy (and one of my favorite things I’ve ever designed). I rented some cheesy plastic sconces from Lennie Marvin, and borrowed just the top shades (which look like soft serve ice cream.) The body was assembled from several different items. The main part of the body was a shade from a pendant lamp and turned upside down. We raided an existing sconce for the bracket and wiring, and the bottom point is actually the tool used to make real-life waffle cones. Despite ordering everything online, it all fit together nicely and the set dec crew was able to assemble them pretty quickly.”
I challenged Crawford to make a sofa with a “slice” cut out of it, like a layer cake. “We purchased two identical pink velvet sofas, then had a seamstress Shannon Kennedy spend several days taking them apart and reassembling to make it look as if the ottoman was a wedge of cake sliced out of the sofa, complete with layers of cake and icing.”
Katy Perry famously wore a hamburger costume to the 2019 Met Gala afterparty and is known for her fondness of eccentric fashion and tasty food, so a dance was choreographed featuring Perry in a layered cake and backup dancers dressed as ice cream cones.
and a Muppet
Two scenes would be staged in the house’s opulent attic, based out in a satin aubergine paint with an orange-slice motif that was hand-stenciled by the painters at Vision Scenery.
The first scene would be Katy Perry on a couch watching a movie while eating sushi with two Afghan Hounds (played by Spencer and Pasha, owned by Set Decorator Jill Crawford).
For the piano scene, Crawford acquired a grand piano that we finished in a bubblegum lacquer paint. A custom piano-playing puppet then created and puppeteered by the team at Swazzle in Los Angeles.
The fridge was perhaps the most surprising challenge, as everyone seemed to have a different idea of what it should look like.
With time running out, we gambled on sticking with humor and created an oversize freezer, which would feature Perry singing inside. Paint was drying at the shop before we finally had final confirmation on the direction, and the mad scramble to outfit it with a practical fan, shelves, and drawers ensued.
To create added whimsy, a lone forgotten CGI carrot was added to the empty shelf behind Perry.
I’m not sure why, but I really do love designing for short-form (commercials and music videos). It’s not for the feint of heart, as the work can sometimes be chaotic and messy, but it certainly keeps us all on our toes.
It also gives us an opportunity to work on our game, as a team, with an eye on refining and strengthening the design processes that guide us as designers and art directors.
I’ve been proud of my own design process which is continuously being refined. This is process that ensures design continuity from concept design, all the way through completion of photography and final visual effects. The key behind this is creating digital assets that can not only be shared with construction, but also can feed directly into the VFX pipeline—without the need of reinterpretation.
Set Designs are created in SketchUp (or Rhino) in the art department, which feed concept artists using Blender 3D. In construction, the 3D set designs are imported into Rhino by the construction team, and then extrapolated into CAD files that feed CNC machinery at the construction shop.
“The basic ideas are quickly explored in Sketchup, which is still one of the fastest ways to get an idea across,” says Art Director A Todd Holland. “From there, it can easily be imported into Blender or Rhino for more detailed development, whether for illustration or fabrication.”
“It was hard to tell the difference between the concept and the set!” said Safadi. “Creating our concepts in 3D made it easier and faster than ever to bring the vision to life.”
But the most critical part of the equation is in regards to the visual effects effort. In this case, VFX house Mathematic ingested the 3D geometry and textures from Blender, and almost immediately begin interacting on the shots themselves, rather than wasting time re-building and re-interpreting environments. This can only happen when the art department speaks the same language as post production.
Compatibility is the key to continuity of design!
Refining the process. Working on our game. These ideas cannot be possible without the support and collaboration of my team, lead by Supervising Art Director A Todd Holland and supported by Assistant Art Director Katrina Sainz. Thanks also to lightning-fast Set Designer Al Hobbs. A massive thanks to Jill Crawford who turned her “biggest challenge ever” into her “favorite decorating job ever.” I would also be remiss without thanking Shaddy Safadi and his exceptional concept team, as well as Mundo Enriquez and his team at Vision Scenery.
Art Department Credits
- Art Director
- A. Todd Holland
- Asst. Art Director
- Katrina Sainz
- Set Decorator
- Jill Crawford
- Shaddy Safadi
- One Pixel Brush
- Set Designer
- Al Hobbs