Book review: they’ve been designing you, Mr Bond – and what a grand job they've done

The Eon Productions archivist Meg Simmonds goes behind the scenes into the making of the worlds of 007

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 4:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 12:00pm

Bond by Design

by Meg Simmonds


In February 1966, a challenge was put forward to James Bond production designer Ken Adam: could he build the massive volcano lair of 007 nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld – complete with working monorail, 60-foot crater opening, 33-metre rocket and 700 tonnes of structural steel – for US$1 million?

Adam’s simple “yes” was matched by 250 workers who logged 12-hour shifts seven days a week during a six-month span to complete the grandiose set featured in You Only Live Twice.

That story is just one of many that drives Bond by Design: The Art of the James Bond Films, a mammoth 320-page book by Eon Productions archivist Meg Simmonds that collects concept art, design notes and storyboards from all 24 official Bond canon films, from Dr. No to Spectre.

The result is, to borrow a line from Goldfinger, positively shocking – not least because designers Adam, Syd Cain, Peter Murton, Peter Lamont, Allan Cameron and Dennis Gassner get their due.

“What the Bonds did, they stimulated my imagination,” says Adam, the production designer for seven of the first 11 Bond films. “I felt the sky was the limit. I could do anything.”

Beyond its sharp details – look no further than the gadgetry meticulously incorporated into the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger – part of what makes Bond by Design so enjoyable are the fun facts.

For instance, that great tank chase scene through the streets of St Petersburg from 1995’s GoldenEye? Pierce Brosnan never set foot in the Russian city. The scene was created on an exterior lot in Britain that required 62 miles of scaffolding and 700 tonnes of plaster to mimic pre-shot location footage.

It’s stories like these, combined with the pages upon pages of stunning artwork, that make Bond by Design a pleasure. You won’t look at a James Bond film the same way again.

Tribune News Service