Amanda Davis’ impressive designs for the Bafta Awards Dinner

Amanda Davis has been creating designs for the Bafta Awards dinner and after party for the past 16 years. We spoke to her about this year’s looks, which were all themed around the movies nominated for Best Film…

After Sunday’s gala Bafta Awards ceremony, approximately 2,000 guests, including cast and crew on all the nominated films, headed to Grosvenor House Hotel in London for the dinner and after party. For the past 16 years, designer and artist Amanda Davis has been tasked with decorating the room for the post-awards dinner, which includes the creation of a series of elaborate table settings, themed around the nominations for Best Film.

This year’s nominations were The Revenant (which won on the night), The Big Short, Carol, Bridge of Spies and Spotlight. The list was revealed in early January, giving Davies just over a month to devise her designs for the event. “We’re always in the same venue, so you have to keep rethinking and rethinking to create a spectacle to come into,” she told me last week. “My background is as an installation artist, so I want to create something other than just a dining table experience – we create a spectacle in the room by building sculptures on all the tables, and try to create an environment within the space.”

The table sculptures are all between six and nine feet tall, and this year were lit internally, with various small scenes within the sculptures highlighted with lights. “Although they’re all very different films, all five have to sit together as a set on the tables,” Davis explains. “Normally even if I think of something [in advance of the nominations], sometimes it won’t work out because one of the films will be so different that I have to change the idea.”

Work on the Carol table settings at Amanda Davies' studio
Work on the Carol table settings at Amanda Davis’ studio
The Big Short table settings, at the studio
The Big Short table settings, at the studio
One of the sculptures for The Big Short tables
One of the sculptures for the Bridge of Spies tables, at the studio
Davies admires a tree used in a setting for The Revenant tables
A tree used in a setting for The Revenant tables

“This year I’m doing quite a lot of laser cutting,” she continues, “as I want to get a lot of detail into stuff. The feel was to have lots of cut outs and play with that theme throughout…. I’ve done some as sculptures but there are cut out elements within these, so I think as a piece it all works together. Most of them are made out of wood, except one of them, and that was the feel that I really wanted to go with.

“I want to do it for the people around the table, for them to really enjoy it. We put a lot of effort into making sure it’s interesting for those people. I love attention to detail, that’s what I want to bring in.”

Davis has in the past received acknowledgement of her work directly from the actors in the Bafta-nominated films, including Tom Hanks, who asked to meet her. Perhaps the best recognition though is the fact that most of her settings are dismantled by the attendees at the end of the night, with the parts taken home as souvenirs. “When we did Gravity, I don’t think there was a spaceman left,” she says. “There were people going, ‘I worked on the film, I need to have that spaceman!’ – it was a compliment, I was happy.”

More information on Davis’ work can be found at www.adevents.co.uk.

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