Get the Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Midcentury Mansion in Pixar's Incredibles 2
Nearly 15 years after meeting the Parr family—more commonly known as The Incredibles—we welcome back the superhero posse to the big screen in Pixar’s Incredibles 2, which hits theaters June 15.
In the sequel, Helen—Elastigirl—leads a campaign to bring back the Supers, while her husband Bob—Mr. Incredible—is a stay-at-home dad, caring for their kids Violet, Dash, and baby Jack-Jack. With Helen’s new high-profile superhero gig, the family moves away from their traditional suburban home to a swanky, midcentury mansion that is perched on a dramatic waterfall.
Drawing inspiration from famous midcentury modern residences around the country, the Incredibles 2 design team created a brand new, sophisticated dream home for the Parr family.
"It’s fun to look at architecture, and it’s part of what I do," says Pixar Animation Studios’ director and production designer Ralph Eggleston. "All of our films require different worlds. I really delved into architecture on this film in particular."
We sat down with Pixar’s Eggleston to hear more about the inspiration behind the architectural design of the residence.
In Incredibles 2, Helen’s new job to bring the Supers back is what leads the family to move in this awesome midcentury house.
It’s a temporary home for them [after living] in a 30-foot hotel room. It’s really fun. You get to see the stir-crazy aspect of them living in this little, midcentury motel room next to the interstate, and then this 20,000-square-foot home on a precipice.
It looks like their new house echoes the same midcentury design and decor as their home from the first movie.
It’s riffing on the original film a little, which was in the 1950s. They lived in an Eichler-inspired home that was about 1,500 square feet. We designed an entirely new home for them for this film. It’s a house that they think they can adjust to, and they then realize it’s just really not what they need. So it’s a character in the movie.
Where did you draw inspiration for the architecture and interior of the home?
Homes like James Evan’s [in New Canaan, Connecticut] with its cantilevered angles.
We didn’t want to get stuck entirely in Palm Springs. Palm Springs makes it easy for one-stop shopping for this kind of stuff. We were inspired also by the house in the Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards movie The Party.
Like famous midcentury residences such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and Alden B. Dow’s home in Midland, Michigan, this home also embraces a watery landscape.
There is a waterfall behind the house, and it travels through a lot of the rooms in the house, and the water continues down beneath the house and runs down the stream towards Metroville.
While their home is designed to be a traditional home, there are untraditional things that you incorporated to make it a "super" house. What are some untraditional, or perhaps futuristic, features of the house?
At the time, not many homes had PA systems. It also has a lot of private entrances and exits. A fireplace opens and reveals an elevator down to a secret garage where Helen gets her Elasticycle. There are lots of little things like that.
We took the best of everything and crammed it into the one house. The one thing we get to do as designers is make it look like it all works, but we don’t have to worry about code.
Also, Jack-Jack, Dash, and Violet all have fireplaces in their bedrooms. You’d never put a fireplace in a baby’s bedroom, right?
There are lots of steps and stairs. There are lots of angles in the house that make the viewer want to wander forward through the house. That was very intentional and part of the character of the home.
How does the house function for their day-to-day lifestyle? Bob is a stay-at-home dad and Helen is a superhero.
In our trip to Palm Springs, we visited Sunnylands, an Annenberg house built in 1966 that is only used for presidents and dignitaries. One of the things about that house: they wanted these big, grand rooms and entrances for meetings.
Then they had a lot of smaller rooms. And what was really intriguing is the bedrooms were maybe 16-foot squares for international leaders. Each one had a giant floor-to-ceiling window looking out to the golf course. They weren’t ostentatious and plush; they were basic. They did that on purpose just to make sure that there were human-scale rooms in the home that allowed people to be themselves and bring them back down to earth. We took that idea.
The kitchen, family room, and bedrooms are human-scaled rooms. The rest of the house is big and a little frightening for the family. And, they talk about that in the film. They say it’s too much for them.
There’s a key point in the movie, where there is a very, very intimate moment in the largest room in the house, and it puts a spin on everything we worked towards in the story. The house really does take on a life of its own.