Creatives Commentary: Designer Grace Smart on My Beautiful Laundrette

Mon 17 Aug 2020
Jonny Fines as Johnny looks down from a platform at Omar Malik as Omar in a candid image from My Beautiful Laundrette rehearsals. The stage is illuminated in a wash of blue light and haze.

Set Designer Grace Smart (Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual, My Beautiful Laundrette) on creating the right setting for the culture clash love story of Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette to unfold.

Imagine trying to act out Romeo and Juliet, but on the 1980s set of Top of the Pops. That was the initial concept for the design of Hanif Kureishi’s poetic My Beautiful Laundrette, which is why I love this image so much. It’s a nod to the iconic balcony scene, heightening the cultural distance between them and the resulting sexual tension, but it’s our subversive version. So we reimagined ‘yonder window’ as a huge skinhead-adorned scaffold tower.