Live Design: How does designing a museum exhibit differ for you than a stage or television production?
David Korins: Obviously, the objects in the Chatsworth experience are one-of-a-kind, priceless works of art, which demand a level of care and curatorial parameters that are far stricter than anything put on stage. In addition, patrons interact with the artwork and design in a completely different way when they are immersed inside of it than if you are seeing something from a traditional viewing angle like a TV show or a piece of traditional theatre.
LD: What do you mean by the DNA of Chatsworth and bringing it to NYC?
DK: I believe that every space has a feeling, a heartbeat, a pulse. And Chatsworth is 350 years old, so its energy and age are what make it so unique. It’s a layered tapestry of all of the lives and individuals who have lived and designed their own lives within that house. Chatsworth House has a completely distinct and undeniable emotional quality to it and the architectural, artistic, and spiritual contributions to the building are palpable.
LD: How does that translate to what we see at Sotheby's?
DK: I knew there was no way to render every single room of the residence, let alone individual pieces of wall. As I let my mind wander around the physical space, I became fixated on the tiny architectural elements and how every single piece told it’s own specific and unique story. I thought that if we could zoom in on the little details, then those details would perhaps convey a more specific story of the entire room.
LD: How did you coordinate the lighting design for the exhibit with the scenic elements?
DK: The lighting design worked on several different layers. First and foremost, we had to make the artwork, all highlights from one of the most substantial art collections in the world, look amazing and be well-lit. Then our next task was to carve out each of the oversized elements and wall sections to have both a quality of what it would be in an environment that it is housed in the physical plant at Chatsworth and to light each piece as a beautiful sculptural work of art on its own. Finally, we wanted each individual sculpture to work in concert with the entire constellation of the experience to create one singular, immersive, walk-through, oversized sculpture garden.
LD: How does the exhibit showcase or "honor" the art collection from Chatsworth?
DK: The most important choice with regard to curating the art was to forgo the standard and often overused gallery white wall model and instead to really think about the artwork as it exists. This collection exists in someone’s home, so it felt important to display each piece in a specific color, pattern, in or on a specific tone or detail from the room that exists in Chatsworth House, thus creating a more authentic presentation that helps perhaps create a deeper understanding of the Duke and Duchess and the feeling one would get while visiting Chatsworth.
LD: What are the main scenic elements built for the exhibit, what informed their choice, and where were they built?
DK: The Chatsworth exhibition consists of eight enlarged furniture detail sculptures; 22 sections of walls, ceilings, and floors; 640' of enlarged molding details; seven custom vitrines encased in enlarged details; 13,770 sq ft exhibition; six different wallpapers from Chatsworth; one enlarged version of a Chatsworth carpet printed on actual carpet; and of course, including 45 masterworks. The scenery was built by ID3 in Atlanta, Georgia. Each gallery was designed to seamlessly flow into one another in the brand-new, completely renovated gallery floor at Sotheby’s in New York.