‘Stranger Things’: Production Design Team Spotlights New Sets

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The last time audiences saw the Byers family on Netflix’s “Stranger Things” was when they were leaving town. After a long hiatus, the highly anticipated fourth season returns to Netflix on May 27.

This time the family was relocated for safety to Southern California, where they moved from the fictional Hawkins, Ind. (actually filmed in Georgia).

The family grew, with Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) joining Joyce, played Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp’s Will and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton).

Finding the new home, production designer Chris Trujillo thought about building from the ground up, but there was something more special about finding a convenient location.

Albuquerque, NM changed to California. Trujillo and his team searched for a “time capsule” home that would show the family had passed a socio-economic milestone, courtesy of Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser). A real home, Trujillo says, meant they could move between indoors and outdoors to make it feel like the family was really in a neighborhood.

In the Spanish-style house, the decorator wanted to show how each character had evolved. “Jonathan deepened into this hippie, alien situation,” Trujillo says. “Will is in his bedroom struggling with post-adolescence, and Eleven is trying to be a normal kid, with a bedroom in the suburbs.”

As for matriarch Joyce, she has a new job, working from home where she has taken over the salon. “I asked, ‘What would it be like if she were selling encyclopedias?’ says Trujillo.

The decorator? made sure to infuse a California flair into the decor with warm yellows and golds while wondering what items they would each have taken with them from Hawkins. Trujillo promises an “easter egg-filled” video store, and more of the Upside Down parallel dimension, as well as plenty of scenes in Russia, since the new season appears to be set in the same year as the Chernobyl disaster. Audiences can also see more of Hawkins National Laboratory, the menacing entity inspired by the Cold War era.

A returning item is the Lab’s Rainbow Room, named after its rainbow mural, where Eleven once played with Eight, Nine, and other characters. Trujillo enlarged the playroom, revealing the full rainbow mural and how this pattern repeats itself on the floor as children play. He developed other areas of the lab, building more hallways and adding closed doors into the clandestine facility.

“This [showed]more of what the rest of the underground program looked like,” Trujillo says, “before we get to the dark events we learn about Season 4.”

The Rainbow Room
Kyle Kaplan/Netflix

There’s a new monster that appears in Upside Down – Vecna, which like the other monsters in the series is based on a character from Dungeons & Dragons. A character finds themselves in their lair, an extension of the dank, sickly vines that fill the world seen in previous seasons. All were practically built, with VFX enhancements for lighting pulses.

Trujillo was inspired by the dark paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. He describes the lair as a “psychic space. It’s the manifestation of a character’s psychology,” he says. “It was about what space he would mentally create.”

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