The set designer, who has worked with both Dazed & Confused and AnOther Magazine, talks to us about her art background, theatrical inspiration and her David Lynch obsession
Drawing inspirations from David Lynch films, to art and photography from the 70s, artist Emma Roach creates set designs that often hold a dark or perhaps off-kilter edge. Originally from an art backgound, Roach is now an influential set designer, with commissions from Dazed, AnOther Magazine, Vogue, Numero, Muse and Pop under her belt. Her creative knack has landed her work with the likes of Willy Vanderperre and assisting Sarah Richardson, alongside photographers like Dazed favourites Ben Toms, Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Magnus Unnar - and is now dabbling with the idea of furniture design.
Dazed Digital: How did you get into set design / props styling? Were you always planning to go this route?
Emma Roach: Not at all, I didn't even know this type of career existed. I came from an art background, I studied Sculpture and Painting, after graduating I spent a couple of years assisting stylists such as Sarah Richardson. Through that I came across art direction for which I felt was more suited and moved on to working with Shona Heath for three years, which was quite incredible.
DD: What inspires your creations?
Emma Roach: It's mainly through working closely with photographers & Stylists and a relay of ideas. Most of my references point from art, music, anything 70s. I have an obsession with film, I love Cassavetes and David Lynch's sets are incredible, simple, I like awkwardness.
DD: Do you often feel your designs have a theatrical feel such as the draped curtains in the backgrounds?
Emma Roach: Perhaps I do seem to use a lot of modern dance references. I'm sorry to say I don't go to many shows but I love Romeo Castellucci and Gisèle Vienne's stages.
DD: How do you avoid the set from interfering or overpowering the clothes?
Emma Roach: I suppose I think of it more like portraiture, supporting a space that works. Creating an environment that suits the feeling of the shoot and adding touches to enhance that.
DD: What are you up to at the moment?
Emma Roach: Recently I have been working closely with Sean & Seng and Willy Vanderperre, shooting for AnOther, Numero and W Magazine. I have also been fooling around designing some one off furniture pieces. I've spent a fair amount of time trying to find the perfect chair, so I decided to make my own.