Monday, October 13, 2014

Modern Monday: Patience, Set Design, Teapots and Chairs

Painting of Sherlock's Teapot
It’s Modern Monday! Today we’re going to talk a bit about the artistic and intelligent set design on one of our favorite TV shows. The creators of BBC’s Sherlock took the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from 1886-1927 and seamlessly set them into our modern world. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a total of 56 short stories and 4 novels about the enigmatic detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. Watson.

The show creatively modernized the stories of Sherlock Holmes in a unique and clever manner. While certain aspects have been altered, such as adding new characters, and changing plot lines slightly, the general themes are intact. Sherlock Holmes is still a brilliant and strange detective with very little social grace and Doctor John Watson still acts as his dedicated and brave best friend.

The show has had 3 seasons so far, each consisting of 3 ninety minute episodes.  Filming on a special 90 minute episode will begin in January of 2015, and then they will begin filming a new season of 3 more 90 minute episodes in early 2016. Meanwhile, fans of Sherlock will have to 221B Patient again. I have a feeling it will be well worth the wait.

My favorite aspect of the show is how detailed and nuanced it is. The set design for Sherlock’s apartment at 221B Baker Street is a prime example of their attention to detail.  The entire apartment is full of symbolism. While watching, I am often easily distracted by the unique items they have decided to show us. Nothing you see on the show is accidental, and many items carry extra meaning. 

To point out just one instance, let’s look at the two chairs in the living room. I’ll describe John’s chair first, and then compare it with Sherlock’s chair. They have been carefully chosen for artistic and symbolic reasons. 

John's chair, seen with teapot
John’s chair is comfortable and inviting, with a traditional design. It’s a warm red color and is often shown with a union flag pillow and/or a plaid blanket. If you were to pick a chair for a patriotic, kind, well mannered man who is almost always wearing warm comfortable sweaters, this would be the chair. 

Sherlock's chair
On the other hand, Sherlock's chair has a sleek design of black leather and cold metal. It is modern and stylish, but certainly not inviting or warm. It looks uncomfortable and cold, or at the very least, like an acquired taste. It has never been shown with an added pillow or blanket for comfort. This fits perfectly with his character. Sherlock is almost always seen wearing modern, uncomfortable clothing (particularly black suits), and he has a cold and calculated demeanor. His mind is sharp, and his attitude is as well. Artistically and symbolically, this chair makes sense for his character.

One of the many unique items seen in the apartment on Baker Street is a white teapot adorned with a map of the United Kingdom and Ireland. I did a bit of research and found it is handcrafted and was designed by the British artist Ali Miller. It can be purchased directly from her website here. It’s gorgeous, and fits the show perfectly. In fact, it can be seen situated next to John’s chair in the image above. This teapot has become an iconic symbol for fans of the show.

My mother created an oil painting today inspired by this unique teapot. I love the moody dark purples and blues that she chose for the painting, and the thick, modern brush strokes. She painted it on an 8 by 12 inch flat panel canvas. Well done, Mum. It’s definitely a good way to spend your 221B patient time. :) 

Until next time,


  1. Lovely Painting :)

    I have to admit I am a more vintage Sherlock fan :)

    Have a lovely Tuesday, cheers, T. :)

    1. Thanks, T!

      Vintage Sherlock is good too! :)

      There certainly have been many great & popular films and TV shows based on Sherlock Holmes over the years! :)

  2. lovely. your mother did a wonderful job