Designing the Apartment in ‘Friends’

Designing the Apartment in ‘Friends’


– [Narrator] John Shaffner
designed the most famous New York City apartment of all time. Except it only had three walls and no ceiling. And it wasn’t actually in New York. – This is my apartment, and I like it! – [Narrator] John Shaffner
designed the set of Friends. John is a production designer, and John has worked on a lot of shows. – I’ve done 44 series, and 68 pilots. “Dharma and Greg,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Big Bang Theory.” – [Narrator] And most notably, “Friends.” – When I get assigned a new show, I do what is called a
sketch model in white paper. And you hold it up and you
close one eye, and you squint. And you can see just what
the camera is gonna see. – Hello. – When we were presenting “Friends,” I presented a white model, and the producer looked at it and said, “Well, now what are we
going to do about color?” – What do you want to do? – And I said, “I think we
should paint the set purple.” – Ooh.
– Uh oh. – [John] Everybody was
really anxious about. – Nobody like change. – Until I painted the little model purple. – It’s purple! – [John] Color’s really important
in terms of establishing the show identity. – Hey, ooh, slow down! – When you switch to “Friends,” you saw that it was purple,
and you stayed tuned. One of the responsibilities
of a production designer is to look into the future, if you can. (screaming) We put a door all the way up this hallway and we really didn’t say where it went to. I said, “Why don’t we just wait and see “where the stories take us.” So all of a sudden, years into the show, we’ve never seen this door open. – I wasn’t trying to open your closet, I wasn’t trying to open
your closet, I swear! – [John] They do an entire episode about this was Monica’s messy closet. – Oh my God! (laughter) – (gasps) – [John] I definitely think
that the coffee house on Friends sort of influenced our culture of where people like to meet and hang around. – Thank you. – [John] And now, of
course, 25 years later, there’s a coffee house on every corner. I’m surprised how many of
them have overstuffed chairs. – What am I going to do? – In the pilot, the moment when Rachel walks through the door
in her wedding dress is a pivotable moment. We made a decision to put the
door up here on a diagonal. She walks, pow, through those doors and straight to the camera and everybody had to, like,
physically turn and look. – This is everybody. This is Chandler, and Phoebe, and Joey. And you remember my brother, Ross? – Sure! – Hey.
– Hi. Oh!
(laughter) – Who knew that that was
going to be the beginning of 10 years of a number
one show on television? Audiences relate to sitcoms
because once you get to know the characters, you
become invested in their story. So it’s easy to turn on and
watch an episode of Friends. It’s a comfort coming back to
visit with these characters and be with them for that half hour. I’m so lucky I got to design Friends.


100 thoughts on “Designing the Apartment in ‘Friends’

  1. How does a show that takes place in New York City, the melting pot of the world, have no people of color in it? I can at least understand a show like Roseanne, that takes place in Nowhere, Indiana, having no people of color. But why was there never a black friend? Or any people of color walking down the streets, in all of New York City? My theory is that Friends is an alternate, post-apocalyptic universe, where Donald Trump completely eradicated all minorities in a nuclear-holocaust world war 3, and now only white people remain.

  2. The bitter sweet part of his job is : His work gets to live on throughout the series and beyond…….but he only gets paid once for his work

  3. Jerry Seinfeld's apartment is waaaaaaaay more iconic. And those kinds of coffee houses were appearing long before friends in NYC.

  4. The final scene showing the empty apartment and the way it lingers on the framed keyhole on the door is still so heartbreaking 😢

  5. Thanks for making this. It's truly an iconic set. Also, cool to see a little of the Big Bang Theory set in a few shots.

  6. What a great timing! Im watching friend right now and im in season 3! Oh my gosh this is so good! Production design is insanely fun

  7. FRIENDS sucked and the unbearable aura of white 90s twenty-somethings in the design being directly connected to Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory doesn't surprise me at all. No wonder no one likes multiple-camera, single-set sitcoms anymore – they're associated with this BS.

  8. Is it Weird that I have been binge watching friends Clips since last Month on YouTube everyday and then today this video is posted about Friend's Apartment.

  9. Current GBS poll for the most famous New York apartment:

    Friends – 77%
    Seinfeld – 19%
    Sex and the City – 4%

    .. could that BE a bigger victory?

  10. This man is a genius and is amazing! He really inspired me to be a designer and be creative. Thanks to him, we can all enjoy watching the everyday apartment of Monica and Rachel as well as Two and a Half Men.

  11. When I went to watch Conan live. I walked by sound stages at Warner Bros. Past by the set of Friends.

    It's crazy they keep some sound stages around. It was fun visit the Friends set.

  12. I enjoyed the video, but seriously, Friends is a horrible and corny show. can't believe people can ever get remotely interested in it. otherwise, neat video and interesting perspective.

  13. I understand that Rachel, Ross, Monica, and Chandler came from extremely wealthy families. And Joey was just Chandler’s roommate who I assumed pulled the weight on rent. But how did Phoebe afford to live in the neighborhood?

  14. it's amazing how 3:16 minutes can be entertaining and informative at the same time.
    Thanks
    btw a real like friends apartement in West village would cost $5,100 a month (that's what google said)

  15. Nobody has said this was a "pivotable" show??? 🙂 2:14

    Also, great set! Now I have to check out BBT's set – which defies the laws of architecture, but works so well.

  16. Look at the baby fat on Jennifer Anniston. Beautiful! I wasn't old enough to really appreciate her assets lol. But she has aged really well and is still straight up perfect.

  17. Friends w/ benefits and from amount of time at Central Perk and the Purple Apartment… Friends w/ no jobs.

  18. Actually, I saw a clip of one of the early seasons, and it showed the closet door was open, filled with neatly stacked towels. Must be where Monica kept her 11 categories of towels. XD

  19. Awwww……….he made all the memories possible through his blue print design of the apartment.Way to go John Shaffner! I enjoy watching the show when I was younger.The whole cast made my teens years enjoyable.

  20. John's not just one of the best in the business, he's one of the nicest, too. Always been a pleasure to work with him.

  21. Very cool. Plus, what makes it even more so is I went to the UofM (Missoula, MT) with John. So good to see what a huge success he has had over the years.

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