Futurespace Magazine was lucky enough to catch up with “bright young thing” Rhea Thierstein between her many exciting set design projects. Here she fills us in on her insect fascination, meeting her ultimate hero and an Easter egg that’s very close to her heart.
How is the egg you designed for The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt going down?
It’s been really good. It’s been amazing to be part of it and it’s gone really well – it’s such a good cause and it’s really helping to draw attention to the two charities, Elephant Family and Action for Children that it’s being held for. We’re having a big party next week to celebrate the event at the Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel, Belgravia, London, which is where my egg is being hosted.
I think my egg makes quite a bold statement. I went to Borneo in August last year which really opened my eyes to the alarming rate of the destruction of the environment and the natural world. I really wanted to put this message across through my egg. I think the point I made fitted really well, and it also links in well with the Elephant Family charity.
In general I take a lot of inspiration from the environment in my work, but not necessarily the destruction of it.
Like the giant wasps that you created for Selfridges’ ‘Bright Young Things’ project…they were amazing…
Yeah! It all came together in the end. It was quite hard to get their shape right. There’s a fine line between a giant wasp looking believable and comical, it took a long time to get them right before we painted them.
Which of your sets/pieces are you most proud of?
Probably the wasps, which were really personal as for the ‘Bright Young Things’ project I had the opportunity to pick a theme of my choosing.
I’m not even into my second year yet though, so every job I do I am proud of. The egg as well was really close to my heart. I’m really into the environment and conservation so I’m very proud of it for those reasons. I didn’t even know the severity of these issues,until Borneo – it’s just not known about, so it’s really good to be able to draw awareness of these things.
Your job truly looks amazingly magical and fun, are there any drawbacks at all?
The good bits are brilliant but it has bad bits as well – it’s also quite full on and stressful. There are quite a lot of indecisive
people that you have to deal with in this industry. Sometimes you work on something for a week and then it gets canceled.
It’s a real rollercoaster job, but it’s really fun and I can find myself in unusual situations – I’m not strange at all but when I tell people what I’m up to they think what I do is quite weird! Like last week we had to make a unicorn, so we had to find a miniature horse and tie a little horn onto it. You end up in the most bizarre environments, which is really great and really creative.
What’s been the most painstaking job you’ve done? The one that springs to mind is the shed job that I did, we had to carry it up five flights of a fire escape – it was really painstaking to get that up to the top. Actually all of my projects are pretty painstaking and can be in really difficult places – but it’s all part of it though isn’t it?
What project have you enjoyed the most?
They’re all quite enjoyable, otherwise I wouldn’t do this job. It’s an agreement I made to myself, I’d have to enjoy each job as much as I can. The McDonald’s advert I did was really fun. The Tim Walker jobs are always really fun, really creative, there’s always a little bit of magic that happens on the set its quite outstanding. When he starts shooting – it’s beyond just taking a photograph, so it’s always quite moving working with him.
The Bompas & Parr “Culinary Odyssey” event is going to be a great one as well. It’s let me really go to town and be really open
with what I can do. It’s going to be really big I think, it’s getting a lot of attention. And we’re both really excited to be working with each other, after meaning to for so long.
Oh and one more thing! Last week I had to make an egg for David Attenborough so I got to meet and go on the shoot with him on a portrait for British Vogue – it was absolutely amazing. Tim Walker was shooting and he asked me to bring some props along, so I brought some bird masks and a replica Elephant Bird Egg, which I’d painted to make it look real, just in case he didn’t bring his. David brought his in the end, but he was still quite impressed by what I had created for him. I was overwhelmed for two days after that. I didn’t realise how much of a David Attenborough fan I was and how cool he is. Because I’m really into nature and stuff I had quite a lot to chat to him about. He’s definitely one of my heros!
Images: LOVE pictures: Tim Walker, shed image: Taz Darling.