When Bottega Veneta’s creative director Tomas Maier decided to uproot his A/W 2018 runway show from Milan and move it to New York this past season, he did so with all creative guns blazing. The result was an extravagant Brutalist-inspired backdrop, designed by the award-winning Broadway powerhouse Scott Pask to mimic a well-appointed apartment. It formed a show set backdrop which male and female models promenaded around, and its open plan rooms also also served as an after-party venue brimming with design classics.

Bottega Veneta’s apartment-inspired A/W 2018 runway set. Image courtesy of Bottega Veneta

‘The New York show was not a regular runway show, but a show within an apartment,’ explains Maier, of the runway spectacle staged within the historic American Stock Exchange Building. ‘It was about creating a lifestyle of how someone would live and represent both Italian design and New York architecture – bringing the two sensibilities together.’

Scott Pask is renowned for his work on a wide range of productions, including The Book of Mormon, The Pillowman, and most recently, Mean Girls (which starts previews next week), and his design balanced architectural austerity with sumptuous furnishings to verisimilitudinous effect.

‘The goal for the set was to create… a space opulent in scale, yet austere in its material choices and textures that supported the world of the collection, ultimately becoming a tableau vivant for the models,’ explains Pask. ‘The environment [had to have] warmth, personality, and colour,’ Pask adds of the set which was mapped out like a Manhattan residence, featuring a host of eclectic design classics, like reupholstered Fifties and Sixties Gio Ponti seating, Louis XVI chairs, Turkish carpets and art on loan from the Sperone Westwater Gallery and Gagosian Gallery.

The fireplace seating of the show set features 1950s Gio Ponti chairs reupholstered in velvet by Jon Urgoiti. Image courtesy of Bottega Veneta

‘I remember during my first conversation with Tomas, my first instinct was sensory, and based around the idea of the hearth, a fireplace. Visually, I wanted to create a more residential scale by designing a ceiling plane within the vast vertical height of the American Stock Exchange Building,’ Pask explains.

Pask, who has a degree in architecture and an MFA in theatrical design, moved into the world of set design after working in independent film and off-Broadway theatre. ‘I became interested in creating narrative foundations for the projects I was designing during my architectural education,’ he recounts. ‘Proportion, scale, and the human form and how it will inhabit the space are always paramount considerations [in my projects]. These, along with a conceptual foundation for the work and a deep consideration of materials grew out of my architectural work.’

He adds, ‘Something I am always interested in is the expansion and contraction of space throughout an experience – most often by physically shifting and moving planes within it to shape and create different scales of space. In the case of Bottega Veneta, it was to reveal the lounge space onstage by flying a seemingly monumental concrete wall [for] the audience’s ascent to the stage to join Tomas and his models for the post-show celebration.’

Despite the highly varied stylistic nature of his work, Pask has always looked to contemporary architecture for inspiration. ‘I’m always intrigued by practitioners who I think most poetically explore materials and light as their foundations – artists like Tadao Ando, Louis Kahn, David Adjaye and Snøhetta. Historical practitioners who also share those ambitions, especially the Italian Baroque architects who used theatrical manipulation of false perspective to create viewer aspiration, have always fascinated me as well.’