Website last updated: 7-5-2024

Sir Ken Adam's Work On Display At Flo-Master Exhibit In Berlin

By: FSWL team
Ken Adam Flo Master Exhibition Berlin
Iconic drawings by legendary James Bond Production Designer Sir Ken Adam have gone on display at the O&O Depot in Berlin. Running until December 14, the exhibition entitled Ken Adam. Flo-Master (named after the felt-tip pen he used to create his sketches) includes many of Adam’s spectacular Bond film set designs and an opportunity for visitors to try their hand using the Flo-Master pens provided in the exhibition.

Markus Penell, O&O Baukunst
Boris Hars-Tschachotin, Film director, Liquid Blues Production

Berlin in the 1920s – a loud, garish, unfathomable and modern city. Born there in 1921 into an upper middle-class Jewish family, Ken Adam grew up as Klaus Hugo Adam between the architectural utopias of Erich Mendelsohn and Mies van der Rohe, between art and cinema.

Even when classic modernism’s heyday was long past, the spatial visions of this era remained very much alive in Adam’s designs and legendary film sets. Hardly any other production designer has left us so much stylised reality – exaggerated, ambivalent, and often critical. Many of Ken Adam’s spectacular film set designs, such as the central room of the villain Blofeld in You Only Live Twice (director: Lewis Gilbert, 1967), which is concealed inside a huge extinct volcano, or, in the film Moonraker (director: Lewis Gilbert, 1979), the pyramidal control centre and the rocket launching pad that are hidden inside a Maya temple, have indelibly impressed themselves on our visual memory.

Moonraker Interior Pyramid Control Room
Ken Adam's drawing of the Tanker Interior in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

Moonraker Interior Pyramid Control Room
Ken Adam's drawing of the Interior Pyramid Control Room in Moonraker (1979).

Employing a focussed dramaturgy, in the O&O Depot we present Ken Adam’s visions – in an immersive form that intervenes in space and using selected original drawings. The sketches and series of drawings, which were chosen from an oeuvre consisting of more than 5500 drawings, direct the viewers’ attention to the design process. For Adam sketching was an area of development that offered a basis on which further ideas could arise, comparable to a kaleidoscope in which minimal movements can create new images. From this area of experiment the form, the subsequent design of the set, then emerged.

The tool used by Adam for his unmistakable graphic style was a kind of felt pen known as a Flo-Master. With this pen, a fluid shorthand medium with which his visual ideas could be quickly transferred onto paper, he was not only able to draw very quickly but also achieved a strongly expressive style that included atmospherically intense effects of light and dark. The graphical intensity that we often find in his drawings, which is produced by his broad, powerful strokes, suggests something of the agility with which Adam’s hand obeyed his inner eye and led ideas about the shapes of spaces and buildings “outwards”. Here the drawing became a living being, which Adam constantly drove further until he found the right form, the suitable set for the particular film and its content.

The documentary film This Is The War Room! by Boris Hars-Tschachotin also forms part of the exhibition and offers deep insights into Ken Adam’s creative intellectual approach. For this film Ken Adam, at the age of 93, took up his Flo-Master once more. In front of the viewers’ eyes he once again designs the nuclear-proof conference room underneath the Pentagon, the iconic War Room from Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (director: Stanley Kubrick, 1964). In the process he tells about the fundamental spatial metamorphosis of this centre of power. Premiered at Venice International Film Festival in early 2017, this documentary received support from O&O Baukunst.

This Is The War Room film poster Boris Hars-Tschachotin
Official poster for Boris Hars-Tschachotin's documentary film This Is The War Room!

Special thanks from the organisers to the Deutsche Kinemathek - Ken Adam Archive, Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and the courtesy of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli from EON Productions Ltd. for the loan of concept drawings, some of them have never been on display before.

All pictures. Copyright © Deutsche Kinemathek - Ken Adam Archiv. All rights reserved.



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