Hand-painted silk wallpaper is one of the greatest Chinese exports. While it all but disappeared during the cultural revolution, the trade is experiencing a renewal as the popularity of these papers spreads. The center of the industry is in Suzhou, China, where master craftspeople, members of the Suzhou Silk Workers Craftsman Guild, hand paint the silk papers. After being cured and finished, the silk is then applied onto a robust wallpaper backing of the highest commercial grade.
Rather than presenting the usual dark, dank Gothic Dracula castle, production designer Rob Harris and art director Jo Riddell added some whimsy to Dracula's surroundings. Elements in the silk paper, like large birds and flowers, add dashes of joy and glamour to the sets. They also help form a more dashing and glamorous Dracula character, who is posing as an American entrepreneur in this take on the story.
A team of Italian painters worked in tandem, painstakingly matching the trim colors and gilded elements on the woodwork. In addition, they painted the vignettes you see in the box trim molding, using the wallpaper as a base. "This transitions the wallpaper's patterns through the rest of the set," Bray says.
They wound up shipping 100 rolls from China to the sets in Budapest via FedEx; Bray says following the tracking for the three-day delivery was the most stressful part of the project. "Chinese New Year was about to begin, and we got everything done just in time," he says. After the rolls were packed and shipped to Budapest, he crossed his fingers and checked on the tracking for three days straight.
Over the second-story archways you can make out another Griffin and Wong design, Baltazar. This paper combines a Renaissance evening-sky effect and a bevy of fantastic birds soaring toward the ceiling.
Another interesting aspect of this photo is that if you look closely, you'll realize it's a set and not a room in a grand manor (look toward the top of the photo).
"It was a thrill to work on such an exciting project with film-quality sets," Bray says.
If you haven't checked it out yet, catch Dracula on NBC Fridays at 10 p.m. or online.