Chair Trek: Designing Out of This World Set Pieces for The Orville

Chair Trek: Designing Out of This World Set Pieces for The Orville

When producers from Seth McFarlane’s new show The Orville came to us and said they needed custom furniture for the bridge of The Orville, we were ecstatic. Most of us being long time McFarlane fans knew these pieces had to be Out of this World. Bad puns aside, creating a truly space-age seat takes more thought than you can imagine. With there being hundreds of previous examples out there, from Star Trek to BattleStar Galactica, we knew our design had to be unique. At the same time it had to fit the atmosphere for a show that would be much less serious than Star Trek yet not as outlandish as Space Balls. Luckily we had the perfect team to complete the job.



A Chair Fit for a Captain

The first task at hand was to create the Captains Chair. Keep in mind that this would be the chair that would be getting the most on-air screen time, which meant, its design had to be perfected to fit the comedic yet sci-fi atmosphere of the series. So how do you make a chair fit a “comedic yet science fiction” theme? After all, I never laugh when I see a chair… unless its at the person sitting in it. All jokes aside, there are actually quite a few tactics you can use to make your furniture fit the theme of the show.


At first glance, it may be hard to understand what makes the furniture different from a comedy to a scifi drama.  To make this distinction clearer, the photo below compares the bridge sets for The Orville (A Comedy Science Fiction Show), vs. BattleStar Galactica (A Gritty Hard Science Fiction Series).


BattleStar Comparison


Without even knowing which show was a comedy, you can immediately tell that The Orville is a show that takes its self a lot less seriously. This is achieved through a very precise use of set design. The Orville’s set is brightly lit, colorful, with rounded and soft surfaces. While on the other side of the fence, Battlestar Galactica’s set has dark colors, hard angular surfaces, and desaturated blueish clinical lighting. These unique features all aid to create a gritty, more morbid feel to the show.


When designing the Captains Chair, we took all of this into consideration which is why the chairs blend seamlessly with the rest of the set. Our custom Captain’s chair features softly rounded contours, a floating armrest and a soft gray powder coated base. These different elements all add to the bright lively feel of the set.



Clever Crew Chairs

You may be sitting there thinking to yourself… “That Captain’s Chair is great and all, but what on earth are those things the crew is sitting on the sides of the shot!”. Well, rest assured, you have reached the part of the article where we talk about the design of these seemingly impossible chairs. At first glance, it may look like these chairs are a recipe for disaster. I mean, just look at them…. there is only a small piece of metal supporting them at the front… They can’t possibly be balanced.




Well surprisingly enough, they are extremely well-balanced. In fact, they work much like the classic Fork and Toothpick Trick. Just like how the center of gravity of the toothpick is on the rim of the glass, the center of gravity on these impossible chairs is directly on the base, making them incredibly stable. This minimalist approach is a common motif in Spaceship based Science Fiction. We incorporated this theme from top to bottom of the crew chairs. In fact, if seen from a birds-eye view, these chairs would outline a circle, the simplest shape.


We are excited to see our work appear on National Television on September 10th.


This isn’t Acme’s first rodeo in the prop and set design industry. We have been designing custom furniture pieces and props for Hollywood since our inception in 2000. We do all of our custom designs in our vast 75,000 square foot warehouse, where we boast the latest and greatest in custom manufacturing technology.


If you feel like we would be the right fit for your next project please contact us either by calling

(323) 722 0000 or contact us here