DESIGN: Gatsby’s Sets and their Inspirations


The Great Gatsby was exactly what I expected from Baz Luhrman. I was sold by the graphics and glimpses in the previews before going to the theater. It even inspired some graphic work back in February, thanks to Academy Award winning designer Catherine Martin, who is the visionary that makes Luhrmann’s films so alluring. The casting was pretty close to what I envisioned in Junior year English when I was forced to read the book, and the impressive sets spared no amount of detail. I’ll let the film critics give the in depth coverage of the film as a whole, which left me wondering how long before another remake of the same story with a better soundtrack. Still, whatever faults I found, including the central theme of the movie not having any relation to the book, it didn’t distract me from soaking in as much of the visuals as I could. All of the components could almost be considered characters as well – Master Bedroom Millwork: Played by Himself.

The combinations of restrain and opulence are still as attractive as they ever were. The setting that probably inspired the book and subsequent films is known as the Gold Coast in Long Island, New York – home once to America’s elite families such as the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, Whitneys, and the Woolworths. After the jump are stills from the film and the design that inspired the well crafted visuals. Some of them are museums and schools you can visit and learn more about here, in case you’re looking for something other than going to the movies. We also take a look at Catherine Martin’s interior images from Architectural Digest.


Daisy and Tom Buchanan’s Manor

Daisy and Tom Buchanan’s redbrick manor

Old Westbury House and Gardens

English designer,  George A. Crawley, finished the Charles II-style mansion, the Old Westbury House, in 1906 for John S.  Phipps, wife Margarita Grace Phipps, and their four children. The estate sits on 200 acres of formal gardens,  landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes.  Westbury House is decorated with English antiques and decorative arts.


Gatsby’s Castle, The Great Gatsby


Oheka Castle, Delano and Aldrich


Beacon Towers, Hunt and Hunt

Several buildings including these two served as the inspiration for Jay Gatsby’s opulent castle. The design of Gatsby’s castle in the film was heavily influenced by Hunt and Hunt’s gothic Beacon Towers, and Delano and Aldrich‘s sturdy steel and concrete Oheka Castle. The production team filmed the International College of Management in Sydney, Australia with a few GGI enhancements including the ivy.


International College of Management, Sydney, Australia

Compare the first two floors of the International College of management and the production image from the film.


Art Deco, Hollywood Regency, and Arts and Crafts were among the many styles Catherine Martin used to create her lavish sets.


Gatsby’s Ball Room


Gatsby’s Master Bedroom

The second story balcony/dressing area of Gatsby’s Master Bedroom was one of my favorite sets. Part New York City duplex, part yacht, part Paris retail, the vertical relationship of the two areas is unique. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to decorate their really tall walls with nice clothes some day? It would really encourage you to update your wardrobe constantly.


Nick Carraway’s Cottage Interior


Daisy and Tom Buchanan’s Sitting Room