Born in Berlin in 1921, Ken Adam left Germany with his family in 1934. After training as an architect at London University, he joined the RAF and took part in the Battle of Normandy. In 1946, Adam landed a job as a junior draftsman at Riverside Studios. Over the next decade, he became known as one of Europe’s best film designers, earning his first Academy Award nomination for AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956).
When Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman started working on DR. NO (1963), they asked Adam to join the team. Adam set out to design imaginative sets using the very latest techniques and materials, setting the tone for the whole James Bond series.
Adam was unable to work on the second 007 film (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) but returned for the next three, surpassing himself each time. Blofeld’s hideout inside a volcano in 1967’s YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE resulted in a massive $1 million set on the Pinewood backlot.
Greatly in demand, Adam only contributed to one of the next four Bond films, 1971’s DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. After winning an Academy Award for his work on Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON (1975), he returned for two more 007 assignments. His supertanker set for THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) required a space so huge that a special stage had to be constructed to house it. The resulting structure was christened the 007 Stage. Adam’s designs for THE SPY WHO LOVED ME earned him his third Academy Award nomination.
Continuing to work on films in the 80s and 90s, Adam earned his second Academy Award win in 1994 for THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE. In 2003, he was knighted. Adam sadly passed away on March 10th, 2016.
Many examples of Ken Adam’s work can be seen at the Bond In Motion exhibition, including original artwork and the famous Lotus Esprit which he designed. http://londonfilmmuseum.com/