From robes to Rothkos: props that make the se­ries

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page - Adam Bouyamourn

It costs US$400,000 (Dh1.5 mil­lion) to cre­ate an ex­act replica of the Oval Of­fice, ac­cord­ing to Tif­fany Zap­pulla, the set di­rec­tor on House of Cards .

In a large ware­house on the out­skirts of Bal­ti­more, House of Cards keeps the props and fur­ni­ture that make up its sets. It’s a giant room over­flow­ing with po­lit­i­cal de­tri­tus.

One of the 12-me­tre-high walls of the ware­house is cov­ered in paint­ings of pres­i­dents, Framers and Con­ven­tion-sign­ers. There’s a rack of 40 pur­ple vel­vet robes, a rope-line re­strict­ing ad­mit­tance to Jef­fer­son Memo­rial Hospi­tal, yard signs em­bla­zoned with fic­tional po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates ( “Un­der­wood / Un­der­wood”, “Russo for Gov­er­nor”), dozens of mir­rors – one of which is la­belled, simply, “Camp David mir­ror” – and above it all, a 20-me­tre-long Star-Span­gled Ban­ner, its broad stripes and bright stars hang­ing over pal­let racks stacked high with so­fas in a neo-colo­nial style.

On one side of the ware­house, there ’ s a set of freshly painted “Rothkos”. If you no­tice an un­usu­ally large num­ber of Rothko paint­ings in sea­son 5 of House of Cards, it’s be­cause the art depart­ment re­cently ac­quired the rights to use the artist’s paint­ings on tele­vi­sion. House of Cards’ art depart­ment is now pro­fi­cient in the mass pro­duc­tion of Rothko repli­cas.

But it’s the be­spoke, po­lit­i­cal bath tow­els that keep dis­ap­pear­ing, Zap­pulla says.

I tour rooms plucked straight out of Capi­tol Hill and the United States’ col­lec­tive po­lit­i­cal imag­i­na­tion: Air Force One, the White House sit­u­a­tion room, the halls of Congress. As I make my way through repli­cas of the White House’s in­ner cham­bers, I find an ex­clu­sive Easter egg. On a white­board in the chief of staff’s of­fice in the White House, Doug Stam­per has sched­uled a meet­ing. Olivia Pope, Scan­dal’s White House di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, ar­rives at 8.30am.

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David Gies­brecht/Net­flix

Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire Un­der­wood (Robin Wright) on the cam­paign trail.

David Gies­brecht / Net­flix

Frank Un­der­wood (Kevin Spacey) and Doug Stam­per (Michael Kelly).

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