Germany, active England, born 1921
Production design sketches – Parchment of cardboard
Ken Adams was the production designer for “Dr. Strangelove,” for which he developed the stunning War Room stage set: the underground conference room is the key location of the film, its center of power a round table at which the politicians play their infernal games of poker with the world at stake. A circular overhead light contributes to the gloomy mood, which reflects the seriousness of the situation.
Adam also collaborated with Kubrick on “Barry Lyndon,” for which he won an Academy Award for art direction. Kubrick demanded a high level of detail for the film. Adam recalled: “The research was unending, as were our attempts to reproduce the results of this research—which is not really the way I like to work. During the preparation of a film, I usually make endless drawings, whereas for this one I practically didn’t touch a piece of paper. But it was fascinating work all the same. We did research on the toothbrushes of the period, on the contraceptives, on a moss of things which finally didn’t appear on screen.”
Of Kubrick, Adam said: “Stanley is an extremely difficult and talented person. We developed an extremely close relationship and as a result I had to live almost completely on tranquilizers.”
Adam is known as well for designing the first six films in the James Bond franchise and won an Academy Award for “The Madness of King George” (1994), in addition to receiving three other nominations. In 1999 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London mounted a special exhibition of his production design sketches. He was honored as an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and in 2003 was awarded the additional honor of Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire for his services to film design and British-German relations.
Adam was born in Germany in 1921 and currently lives in London.