The firm’s LA office is featured in a new gothic fairy tale series with leading soap and drama actors.
In a city renowned for its entertainment industry, IA Interior Architects supports television and film beyond the work we do for our production clients. The firm’s Los Angeles office is the featured business headquarters in the newly released web-based TV series, Winterthorne. Written and created by executive producer Michael Caruso, the series chronicles the utopian world of a family of candy makers, in which women control the family and business, and men exist strictly in support roles. The fact that IA’s office is run by a woman in real life—Helen Watts is the first female managing director employed at IA—is a serendipitous bonus.
“It’s a lightly gothic fantasy, or a modern day, edgy fairy tale,” Caruos explains. “My wife, executive producer Barbara Caruso, and I conceived of the hyperstylized production design, and really aimed to construct the Winterthorne world from the ground up.”
When scouting locations for the Winterthorne family business headquarters Caruso says he was struck by the contrast and monochromatically modern aesthetic of IA’s double-floor office, located in the penthouse suite of a downtown LA highrise. “It’s very sleek, sharp, and edgy looking—almost hyper-modern, which I love,” he tells IA. “The way it was designed allows for amazing views and so much natural light, which really creates sense of grandeur.” The sun-drenched space prompted Director of Photography, Rodolphe Portier, to use artificial light for actor close-ups exclusively.
The cast list is notable, particularly within day- and night-time soap opera affiliations. Gordon Thompson, known for his roles on “Dynasty,” “Days of Our Lives,” and “Young and the Restless”; “General Hospital” actress Kathleen Gati; and “Dallas” star Linda Gray are among the series’ cast members. It is directed by two-time Emmy winner Sonia Blangiardo.
Scale and Contrast
The introduction of the series’ main character, Miranda Winterthorne, played by television actress Martha Madison, takes place in the IA office’s lower-level conference room, which seats 30 comfortably. In the opening scene, however, Caruso uses the volume of the space to illustrate authority, a visual reinforcement to Madison’s sharp-tongued tirade against a corporate underling. “Every shot from that scene conveys power; that it’s where powerful people work and drive a multi-billion-dollar corporation, but also that they operate in a world much bigger than they are.”
As the episode unfolds to reveal deeper insight into the Winterthorne family, a fight breaks out between Miranda Winterthorne and her husband, played by Caruso. “Upstairs [in the office] we have a personal fight, and while the scope is still big—the room features nearly 20 foot ceilings—there was a personal sense of intimacy,” he explains. As the fight reveals the darker nature of Miranda and the Winterthorne family, the lighter shades of gray and white provide a foreshadowing contrast to the characters sheathed entirely in black, from raven feather costuming to full-fingered leather gloves.
The contrast isn’t only apparent in the LA office, but the role it plays in the overall art direction of the series. Beyond the professional scenes, the first episode features vibrantly hued rooms and sets. Color extends all the way through set dressings, into which candy is integrated into every shot.
“This family is constantly surrounded by candy,” Caruso says. “In one scene we used 5,000 marshmallows, 150 lollipops, and 1,500 candy canes. Even in the Winterthorne headquarters, we used candy, but opted for black and white candy canes to keep with the palette of the office.”
While other scenes in the series’ opening episode feature opulent and elaborate set decoration, the scenes at IA’s offices remain largely unadorned—the office is always styled and lit as it appears through the camera lens.
“We wanted to give IA the visuals that a space like that deserves,” Caruso says.
Watch the full first episode of Winterthorne.