Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Gallery)

I tell people that I have been a designer for a very long time and to prove it I point out that one of my early jobs was designing stained glass windows and tapestries for a 14th century European castle.

For Disneyland park, Paris, I was designing and art directing three dark rides, murals and tapestries for a restaurant, a Dwarf’s cottage for a retail shop and several other minor elements; so in my spare time I took on the castle gallery. Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Gallery) was intended to retell the story of Sleeping Beauty through stained glass windows and tapestries. The show was not intended for opening day, but the windows would have to be in by then.

In order to design the stained glass windows I had to design the entire show so that the windows would make sense and so that each one would advance the story. The show was to be on the second floor of the castle but only a single stair would lead to the space. This meant that the guests would be free to choose any direction of travel (as opposed to being forced through an entrance along a fixed route to an exit). Therefore the show flow had to be intuitive.

Four large windows looked out of the back of the castle. These windows were such a predominate presence that they would undoubtably draw the guest's first attention. This was the place to start the show. From here the guests would move in a clockwise rotation around the room so the rest of the story would be depicted there.

The first three windows, seen here, show the happy celebration for the christening of Princess Aurora. I placed King Stephan and the queen to one side with the center window reserved for the three fairies flying over the royal cradle. To the right were the young Prince Phillip and King Hubert. A fourth window (not seen here) provided an excellent spot for the party-crashing Maleficent.

There were a number of other windows and many tapestries finishing out the space. To aid the storytelling illuminated manuscripts (books) would be placed where needed.

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