Sir Ken Adam 1921 – 2016
Sir Ken Adam has died aged 95.
The legendary production designer was responsible for the iconic and
incredible designs on James Bond films from Dr No to Moonraker. He was
born in 1921 in Berlin to a Jewish family where his father ran a
clothes shop. In 1934, when Adam was 13, his family escaped to Britain
after the Nazis came to power. He trained to be an architect and during
World War 2 designed bomb shelters and then became an RAF fighter pilot
where he flew a Hawker Typhoon.
After the war he became a
draughtsman in the film industry and 1956 saw his first credited work
as a production designer on Soho Incident. He worked on films like Ben
Hur and Around the World in 80 Days before being hired as the
production designer for Dr No.
He would go on to be the
designer for seven James Bond films: Dr No, Goldfinger, Thunderball,
You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me and
Moonraker. His outlandish and stylish sets for Bond are some of the
most iconic features in the series. If John Barry established what a
James Bond should sound like it was Adam who set the template for what
a James Bond film should really LOOK like.
His futuristic control rooms,
cars, weapons, villain bases, and lavish attention to detail remain
peerless. He designed the volcano base for You Only Live (complete with
monorail!), the amazing centrifuge room in Moonraker, Stromberg's
aquatic lair and supertanker interior in The Spy Who Loved Me, the
'tarantula room' in Dr No, and so on. Who can forget his stunning
rendition of Fort Knox too? As the Bond films became more popular and
budgets began to spiral Adam was able to let his imagination run wild.
In an old review of Moonraker on
this site, Drax's bizarre control room was singled out for praise and
described as looking like the Crystal Maze with a budget of $100
million an episode! The fantastical technological visual escapism that
Adam brought to the series remains a joy.
Away from the Bond series, Adam
enjoyed a rich and eclectic career and had two very successful
collabarations with Stanley Kubrick on Dr Strangelove and Barry Lyndon.
Barry Lyndon and 1994's The Madness of King George earned Adam well
deserved Oscars. Rest in peace.