What the Dickens! Chuck, 200, Obsessed With Design

International
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
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Set designer Simon Costin prepares his Dickens window display. (Simon Costin)

Set designer Simon Costin prepares his Dickens window display. (Simon Costin)

Charles Dickens would have been 200 today. Among the bicentennial celebrations of the noted Victorian writer, the Museum of London has been hosting an elaborate Dickens and London exhibition including a Dickensian street scene designed and built by set designer Simon Costin for its City Gallery. The “fantastical wintry vision of 19th century London” made entirely of cardboard and lit with hundreds of LED lights includes quite an array of Victorian buildings and winding alleyways. According to Costin, “My intention is to create a fantasy vision of London as it would have been glimpsed by Dickens on his nocturnal wanderings through the city. His essays are extremely evocative and I am using the text as my starting point and things will grow and develop from there. He has said that he felt like a child in a dream, ‘staring at the marvellousness of everything’. It is that marvellousness that I want to recreate.” The window display closes this month, but if you’re in London, the MoL’s Dickens show keeps going through June. (Via Creative Review.)

But it turns out Dickens had his own eye for design as well. Hilary Macaskill recently wrote in the Guardian that the Victorian author had quite the penchant for interior design. She cites a 6,000 word article (you can become amazingly descriptive when paid by the word) he wrote about wallpaper and other decorations, where he remarks on the design of American wallcoverings from his recent visit in 1842 along with his own designs for wallpaper. Even in his home at 48 Doughty Street, Dickens enjoyed crafting the interior spaces down to the shade of pink trim and a set of decanters he picked up for “slight bargains.” Read the entire article here and check out a slideshow of his home here.

A behind the scenes view of the Dickens window display under construction. (Simon Costin)

A behind the scenes view of the Dickens window display under construction. (Simon Costin)

The Dickens window display at the Museum of London. (Simon Costin)

The Dickens window display at the Museum of London. (Simon Costin)

The Dickens window display at the Museum of London. (Simon Costin)

The Dickens window display at the Museum of London. (Simon Costin)

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