Live in front of a Studio Audience: "The Facts of Life" and "Diff'rent Strokes"

Production designer Stephen Olson recounts the intimidation he felt when being asked to work on the sets of Live in Front of a Studio Audience: "The Facts of Life" and "Diff'rent Strokes" in Perspective magazine's July/August 2022 issue.

Since this particular production features live recreations of sitcoms originally from the 70s and 80s, there was a lot of pressure to get it right. Previous production designers for other episodes were known for creating spot-on replicas for those sets. Olson's biggest struggle was finding the right place to start. He had to know exactly which episodes were being recreated as the sets evolved over time.

Art director Raf Lyndon searched for vintage wallpapers and ended up using six wallcoverings between the two shows. Graphic artist Adee Serrao was tasked with developing surface designs based on authentic 60s and 70s linoleum flooring. By sheer coincidence, one of Astek's vintage digital wallcoverings was almost identical to the original "Diff'rent Strokes" kitchen wallpaper, a floral pattern with bluebirds in the foliage. Working with the Astek team and after multiple rounds of scale and color tweaks, the pattern was customized to perfection for the kitchen set. According to Olson, one of the most challenging parts of the "Diff'rent Strokes” set was finding the right wallpaper for the Drummond's living room - and enough of it. On Air Design's sister brand, Astek, was able to provide the production team with a French gold brocade pattern from their Gilded Elegance collection. Olson notes that it took 32 rolls just for this one room and five days to fully install it. However, once it was done, the set truly started to come together.

Source and images: Perspective Magazine, July/August 2022

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