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About Us

October 22nd, 2020

Our Mission

The mission of the Set Decorators Society of America is to promote the highest standards of excellence in the field worldwide, and to entertain, inspire, teach and preserve the legacy of set decoration in motion pictures and television.

What Is A Set Decorator?

Set Decorators are key members of the design team for film, television and commercials. Working closely with the Production Designer and the Director, the Set Decorator researches, resources, designs, builds, and acquires the objects required to dress the sets. Typical examples of set dressing include furniture, drapery, lighting fixtures, art and decorative objects. The Set Decorator is also charged with large-scale items, which could include machinery or robots, sidewalk and window dressing, street lamps or mailboxes, and even explosion aftermath rubble and debris.

The Creative Process

Over the course of preparation and shooting, Set Decorators have the following responsibilities:

Consult with the Production Designer, Director, Producers, Costume Designer, Construction Coordinator, Cinematographer and other filmmakers regarding the design, decoration, lighting, and practical considerations for each set on the project.

Negotiate with the Producer for approval of estimated costs, and monitor the Set Dressing Purchases & Rentals Budget, and the Set Dressing Labor Budget.

Put together the Set Dressing Crew and supporting contractors, supervise the work, and troubleshoot all projects.

Break down the script, sets and practical locations, plan the list of objects to be acquired for each environment, and schedule acquisition and fabrication per the shooting calendar.

Prepare presentations with reference, fabric swatches, and colors, with inspiration from period and style appropriate for each setting.

With the Production Designer and Art Director how characters and environments are to be portrayed and reflected within the layers of the set.

For set dressing purchases and rentals: furniture, fabrics, decorative objects, industrial items, lighting fixtures, and elements to be altered or incorporated into custom fabrications..

Create dressing plans, draw or work with illustrators and draftspersons, to devise custom-made objects, and alterations of existing items. These may include drapery, floorcoverings and upholstery; furniture; decorative objects, or painting and aging of set dressing, 

Oversee scenic artists, sculptors, prop makers, propshop metalsmiths, drapers, furniture makers, carpenters, florists, and myriad specialty craftspeople to achieve the finished custom set decoration elements designed for each environment.

Oversee dressing of the sets by the Set Dressing crew, to fulfill our vision and serve the overall Design team -- the Production Designer, Director and Creative Producers on the project. 

Open each new set with the Director, making any required adjustments.

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The founding SDSA members in 1993.

A Unique Professional Network

The Set Decorators Society of America, a nonprofit founded in 1993, is the only international organization dedicated to the support of the past, present and future of our profession. Members include qualified Set Decorators of Motion Pictures and Television, including commercials and music videos, as well as Business Members who provide furnishings, materials, and professional services to our trade.

We offer fellowship and networking opportunities for set decorators, crew members and vendors within our craft, and a bridge to other design and technical professions in the entertainment industry. For emerging decorators, students and apprentices hoping to enter our field, we have Associate and Student Memberships as well as various educational opportunities.

Our many activities preserve the past, provide businesses with strategies for success, and pave the way for an ever more professional group of Set Decorators in the future.

A 501 C (6) Not for Profit Corporation

To support these ventures, we rely on membership dues, donations from Corporate Sponsors, magazine and website advertising revenues, activity fees, and grants from those concerned with small business development and educational support.

The SDSA is separate and apart from any labor union and the organization does not represent Set Decorators in negotiations regarding wages or working conditions, leaving this function to our local unions, including IATSE Local 44 in Los Angeles and Local 52 in New York.