The script didn’t call for us to build a set so we brought all the elements of Santa Fe to LA
Season four of Netlfix’s Grace and Frankie kicked off in Santa Fe, Frankie (Lily Tomlin) has moved there with Jacob (Ernie Hudson) and she’s living there in his house. For Emmy-nominated production designer Devorah Herbert, she would have to recreate Santa Fe and find the perfect location in LA and scout for items that reminded her of Santa Fe to create that look. If you’re familiar with LA, you’ll know that would not have come so easily but Herbert was able to find local artists and craftsmen to achieve the look.
In our brief conversation, Herbet walks through two aspects of the season. Bringing Santa Fe to LA and the de-constructing of the Beach House towards the end of the season.
Taking Grace and Frankie to Santa Fe:
At the end of Season three, Frankie has left and moved to Santa Fe. We find Frankie there, but we’re actually filming in LA. The challenge was to create LA in a number of different ways. Two sets that had the biggest impact in terms of creating Santa Fe in LA were the art market and the House.
We were looking for a place in the LA County that has some kind of Santa Fe reminiscent architecture which doesn’ t really exist. We ended up going to a plaza in San Gabriel and we brought Santa Fe to LA via the local artwork and craftsmanship of local Santa Fe artists. We hired a number of local artists and craftsmen to send us their wares and we built handcrafted stones. We kept everything in a Santa Fe palette. We had the paintings and prints by local artists. We had plants that were native to Santa Fe. We had the patterns and colors and I thought that was successful.
We also created Jacob’s house and it’s where she’s now living with him. We took a small house and transformed it through the use of colors and textiles.
De-constructing The Beach House.
The bathtub falls through the ceiling. The house gets ransacked. What I loved about that is that Marta was able to tie the evolution of the set to the evolution of Grace and Frankie. The theme of the women is about how their bodies are not working and how they once did.
One of the big themes was that these two women, their bodies are betraying them and what happens to us as we age is that our bodies give way and they break down. We actually used the beach house as a metaphor. The house is breaking down to the extent that it becomes uninhabitable. It ties exactly what’s happening in their lives to what’s going on in the house and it’s falling apart.