With Incredibles 2, Pixar returns to telling a story set in a marvelously mid-century world. Don Han recently explored how Walt Disney was a mid-century modern man in his book, Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century, and at a recent visit to Pixar I was overwhelmed by the fact that this studio is producing an animated feature inspired by that same style and esthetic. Welcome to the mid-century world of the Parr family.
“It was exciting to me when I heard they were making a second one,” explains Shading Art Director Bryn Imagire, who also worked on the first Incredibles film. “It was really fun to be able to go back into mid-century design, but because The Incredibles isn’t really set in a specific time period, [Director Brad Bird] was always okay with us referencing current fashion. If it wasn’t right for the character to be in 1950’s clothes, he was always good about going modern. Bob was in t-shirts in the first Incredibles.”
Joining Bryn on the costume team was Character Artist Deanna Marigliese, who was responsible for dressing all of the extras on the streets of both cities in the film, Metroville and Municiberg. “I knew that I wanted to focus on day-to-day folk, so that’s who I researched. I stayed away from fashion ads and all of that. I really wanted to look at what made 1950’s day-to-day wear iconic. I studied a lot of home sewer patterns and I used them to better understand mid-century daywear. I paid attention to the boldness of shape, the clean silhouettes, the perfectly tailored fit. This was the most defining quality that I found.”
Municiberg is a new setting for the film’s super family and Production Designer Ralph Eggleston studied a lot of architecture to settle on a design choice that was both mid-century and unique to this location. “There’s this concept of mid-century mundane. It’s not the coolest buildings, it’s the stuff in between the coolest buildings.”
The photography of Ezra Stoller was a great inspiration to Ralph. “The world of the Incredibles is not about small, it’s not about detail. It’s about the big and the medium. The small details are kind of the characters and the textures where we need them the most to tell the story.”
For the architecture of the Parr’s new, luxurious digs, the team looked at the styles of Frank Lloyd Wright and Miles Van der Rohe, as well as homes in Palm Springs. They were also inspired by James Mason’s house in the classic Hitchcock film, North by Northwest.
Bryn Imagire’s job as the Shading Art Director not only requires her to work closely with the costuming team, but also the team creating the worlds of Incredibles 2, including set decoration. For the interior of the new home, it was important that she include terrazzo floors as much as possible, which created new challenges for the team to not only replicate the look, but also allow it to be repurposed in different environments and different colors. Fans of antique furniture and mid-century design should look for homages to patterns by Alexander Girard, Knoll furniture, plus materials that are now rare in homes like onyx, teek, and rosewood.
This new home design is one that Disney fans will actually get to step foot in when the Incredicoaster opens at Disney California Adventure as part of Pixar Pier. The Imagineers didn’t replicate it exactly, but it will be hard for Guests whove seen Incredibles 2 to not feel like they’re visiting the Parr’s incredible new home, with its iconic up-arrow design.
Despite all of the hard work that went into creating this new home, what audiences definitely won’t realize is that it was the second home built for the Parr’s in the film. “The new Parr home is 20,000 square feet,” explains Ralph Eggleston. “That’s the second home we built for the film. We actually finished an entirely different house. The house from the original film was roughly 1,300 square feet, the house we built first for this film was 2,300 square feet, so it’s a nice large suburban home, but it wasn’t quite enough.”
The film was far enough into production with the first home in lighting and animation when a story change necessitated a much larger space. This allowed the writers to consolidate several scenes into one setting while also making Helen Parr’s new job all the more impressive. Enter Visual Designer Philip Metschan, who was able to save the animators from having to scrap months of work.
“We had actually shot some scenes and sequences in this house with camera angles and characters having dinner together,” Philip explains. “What we were able to do is actually lift completely a lot of that camera work and that layout and composition work and put it into the new-new house and arrange the new-new house spaces so that all that work wouldn’t have to be completely redone.”
As for the first house designed for the Parr’s in Incredibles 2, it’s not completely absent from the film. Look for a scene where someone pays a visit to a boy Violet has a crush on to find the first new home that the Parr’s were originally going to live in. You can visit the incredible mid-century world of Incredibles 2 when the film hits theaters on June 15th
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.