Fans of the superb Prohibition era Sky TV drama, Boardwalk Empire, can learn all about how the set interiors were designed on the new Sky Atlantic website. In a candid interview, set decorator Carol Silverman reveals some surprising facts to viewers in Lancashire – like how Victorian dining chairs from Europe were essential to getting an authentic 1920s Atlantic City feel. Boardwalk Empire focuses on the life of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, a fictional character based on the real-life racketeer and political figure Enoch L. Johnson, who controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition. All the staples of Prohibition drama are there, from mobsters and molls to federal agents smashing illegal bootlegging operations. Although stage furniture was used for the action scenes, it may surprise viewers in Preston that the antique desks, American Arts & Crafts furniture and other pieces in the dialogue shots were not reproductions but originals – sourced from auction rooms and prop stores across America.
Carol Silverman went to great lengths to ensure the sets were appropriate to the era – which meant researching not just the 1920s, but Edwardian and Victorian interiors too. Just as in 1920s Cumbria, Victorian dining chairs were normal in lower to middle-class households, who would be unlikely to own the latest cutting-edge Art Deco designs. In addition, furniture fashions were slower to change – as in Lancashire, where antique desks from the turn-of-the century were standard in 1930s boardrooms.
To aid authenticity, European antiques were used – such as Louis XIV cabinets in a fabulously wealthy businessman’s home. Antique dealers in Preston have Victorian dining chairs very similar to those in Nucky Thompson’s Supper Club.
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