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Hannah Beachler

Art director Black Panther


Project - Set design Black Panther

Hannah Beachler – the art director behind the Zaha Hadid-inspired look of Wakanda in the acclaimed Black Panther film – has become the first black woman to win an Academy Award in the production design category.

To create the fictional African nation based on the Afro-futuristic visuals which were first conceptualised by Marvel comics writer-illustrator Jack Kirby, Beachler closely studied the work of Zaha Hadid.

“I started poking around and looking at really modern architects who have designed all over Africa,” said Beachler. “Someone who I really fell in love with was Zaha Hadid. Her architecture is very voluptuous and very flowing; very organic.”

Beachler visited several of Hadid’s buildings as inspiration for the fluid, curved structures she designed for Wakanda, the fictional African nation where Black Panther is set. She also scouted locations in South Africa and drew from the cultural aesthetics of Senegal, Kenya, and Uganda.

Other real-life influences on Beachler’s art direction include Korean urban architecture and the “black lava beaches of Hawaii”.

Beachler – a descendant of African-American slaves –  also looked to her own past for inspiration. In a Twitter post she wrote: “I never knew my relatives who survived [slavery] and my ancestors who were stolen; that is why I created them.”

She added: “No Wakandan ever has to wonder where they come from. [The film] is for six-year-old me, who will never have to wonder again.”

Speaking on the production experience in its entirety, Beachler said: “We’ve reached a place we never dreamed of.”

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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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