K.K. Barrett and the Production Design for Her: How Close is it to Real Near-Future LA?

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Her is the Spike Jonze story of love and seductive technology in near future Los Angeles.

But its depiction of LA has created a buzz among people interested in the future of real LA. K.K. Barrett talks about creating the look for idealized city living, but says he still loves his car.

Her, Twombly in highrise apartment

Creating the Look for Her

Her is the Spike Jonze story of love and seductive technology in near future Los Angeles. Its designer K.K. Barrett (below right) has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Production Design, along with set decorator Gene Serdena.

K.K. BarrettAnd he’s found he’s had to do a lot of talking because people have been so intrigued by his depiction of Los Angeles – a vision that to some seems rather smooth and cold, and to others upbeat and modern.

K.K. talks to DnA about how he, Jonze and the team went about envisioning Los Angeles. Not only was it not based on any expert indicators of LA’s development he says, it did not take cues from other futuristic movies. He explains why they chose to film in Shanghai, why everybody seems to live in a nice highrise home, and what aspects of city life they chose to eliminate so as to create a future of easy living.

But Is Her a Vision for LA?

One of the fascinating things about the movie Her is the reaction it’s gotten — not only from movie goers who like the love story, but from those interested in the real future of LA.

Gizmodo’s urbanism editor Alissa Walker tells DnA about the laughter that greeted the scene in which Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) emerges from the “Subway to the Sea.” It was laughter with delight at the very idea of a transit-based, more urbanized LA — that is forming as we speak, a future that seemed to be validated and enhanced by Her.

DnA asked K.K. how he felt about their fictional cityscape being viewed as a real projection of LA. And does he really want LA to be car-free or a city of towers like Vancouver or an Asian city?

In response, K.K. says the team has been tickled and surprised by how much their fictional creation has started a conversation about LA’s urban planning and near-future technology. But, he says, he does not want to see old LA ripped away to make way for towers, and he loves his car – even as he would like it to be automated, and for there to be more public transit.

And yes, he talks about the high-waisted pants too.