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Sunbrella and Sharpies: Design secrets from Oscar's green room

March 5, 2010 |  7:44 am

Talk about a tough room: Decorating a backstage lounge and garden for the presenters and winners at the Academy Awards could be one of those be-careful-what-you-wish-for opportunities. Fortunately, the designer drafted for this year's Architectural Digest green room at the Kodak Theatre has plenty of experience creating theatrical environments.

The man for the job was Roger Thomas, the executive vice president of design responsible for the interiors of the Wynn and Encore hotels in Las Vegas.

In an allusion to what he calls "the smoke and mirrors" of Hollywood filmmaking, he built a hedge-lined garden room on the theater's loading dock. It adjoins the lounge, pictured above, which is an homage to 1930s Hollywood sets with lambskin tiled walls and a ceiling of stretched black fabric.

The ceiling and floor lights are softened with gels in a color known in the industry as Cosmetic Peach, Thomas says, "to make sure people look glamorous." On the walls? A 19th-century Chinese coromandel screen. And framed mirrors.


Beyond catering to vanity, the green room has to  withstand heavy traffic from eating, drinking and schmoozing celebrities.

"Almost everybody as well-dressed as this group will be fairly well behaved," Thomas says, laughing. "Until they're not."

The Jackson Pollack-inspired painted floor is spill-concealing and the chairs -- his own design -- are upholstered with Sunbrella fabric. As a finishing touch, Thomas personalized his furniture with Cubist-inspired drawings, as shown in the close-up at right. He used a Sharpie marker.

"I had to find the one that was most indelible," says Thomas. "I've had several nightmares of a woman in a white charmeuse gown sitting in one of those chairs, then getting up to go onstage with my drawing on her back."

-- David A. Keeps

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Photo credits: Mary Nichols