The secret behind NYC’s most iconic apartment.
When you think of the most iconic New York City apartments in TV history, you probably think of Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe-stuffed space, any of the sprawling, multi-story apartments in Gossip Girl, or Monica‘s spacious, rent-controlled two bedroom in Friends. The latter is perhaps best known for its proximity to Central Perk, its fancy yellow frame around the peephole, and, of course, those very purple walls. In a recent interview with Great Big Story, John Shaffner, production designer of the long-lasting sitcom, explained why exactly he chose such a surprising color for the walls of the gang’s main hangout.
Shaffner described how, when a set designer is working on a new show, they create a tiny, scaled-down model of the sets on white paper. “When we were presenting Friends, I presented a white model. And the producer looked at it and said, ‘Well, now, what are we gonna do about color?’ and I said, ‘I think we should paint the set purple,'” Shaffner said. “Everybody was really anxious about it, until I painted the little model purple.” The show’s producers approved of the purple, and those brightly colored walls basically became a new character on the show. “Color is really important in terms of establishing the show identity,” Shaffner said. “When you switched to Friends, you saw that it was purple, and you stayed tuned.”
The designer, who has also worked on shows like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, and won several Emmy Awards for his work, went on to talk about another part of the Friends set that was there from the beginning, but that didn’t reveal its significance until much later on: the closet stuffed to the brim with Monica’s hoarded junk, which wasn’t opened until season eight. “One of the responsibilities of a production designer is to look into the future, if you can. We put a door all the way up [Monica’s] hallway and we didn’t really say where it went to. I said, ‘Why don’t we just wait and see where the stories take us,'” Shaffner said. “So all of a sudden, years into the show, we’ve never seen this door opened. They do an entire episode about: this was Monica’s messy closet.” Now we’re left wondering what else this Friends whisperer foresaw—Chandler and Monica’s wedding? Ross and Rachel’s “break”?!