Ken Adam, the man who set the scene for James Bond

He not only designed the ejection seat for an Aston Martin, but a whole space station. Designer Ken Adam was always larger than life with spectacular vision and, now, the exhibition ‘Bigger than Life’ at the German Film Archive in Berlin is celebrating the creator of James Bond’s world….

James Bond's architect, Dr. Strangelove's decorator

Production designer Ken Adam created spectacular film sets before computer-generated virtual dreamscapes took over the film world, at a time when real-life structures had instead to be designed and built. The 90-plus-year-old native of Berlin became famous for the many scenes and accessories he designed for James Bond films, designs that have become part of film history. In the 1960s, he invented the laser-beam machine for ‘Goldfinger’ and, for ‘You Only Live Twice’, he placed the villain’s headquarters inside a volcano. In the course of his long career, in which he won two Oscars, Adam was involved with some 70 movies, including seven Bond films, Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and the Gothic comedy ‘The Addams Family’ .

A look behind the scenes

In 2012, Ken Adam donated his collection to the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum, which now has a major exhibition of the many drawings, photographs and films that helped to create some of the world’s most memorable sets. Visitors can – quite literally – look behind the scenes of some great movies and discover how the master conjured up magic moments.

Photos: Deutsche Kinemathek Berlin

The exhibition ‘Bigger Than Life. Ken Adam’s Film Design’ is on view until 17 May 2015 at the Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. More information at