For devoted followers of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros is a land they know intimately. Its castle halls, towering battlements, starkly beautiful landscapes, and torch-lit chambers are places that root the epic tale in a highly detailed world that bridges the real and the imagined.
Production designer Deborah Riley, who joined the series in Season 4, is responsible for creating the visual environment against which the saga of power, family, revenge and romance plays out. Just as the show’s characters and plots reflect a range of world mythologies and legendary archetypes, so too does the look of Game of Thrones, for which Riley draws on a mix of historical periods, styles, and cultural traditions.
Riley talks about how she and a small army of craftsmen give the series its distinctive visual style in a conversation with Lisa Woolfork, an associate professor of English at the University of Virginia. Woolfork recently taught a class that analyzed Game of Thrones, including considerations of the ways in which Riley’s work influences the show’s narrative.
At a reception afterward, raise a toast with Game of Thrones beers from Ommegang Brewery, including the newest in the line, Valar Morghulis Dubbel Ale.
Go behind the scenes as Deborah Riley talks about the process of production design as “visual storytelling.”
Lisa Woolfork’s Game of Thrones course received national and international media attention. Take a look at the coverage in the Wall Street Journal.