Décor or Stage Scenery Designer

Décor designers, or set designers as they are also known, are artists who design the décor or sets for theatrical performances, television programmes, films and corporate launches. Usually a set has to be designed to meet certain specifications. When asked to create special historical or visual effects to support the script, they need to use their imagination and all their skills.

They develop, with the aid of a computer or by hand, sketches of several concepts which they then present to the producer of the play, film or television production. Research sometimes needs to be conducted to create a set that will interpret the story in a visual form and to establish the appropriate architectural elements. Changes often have to be made until the producer and designer are satisfied with the design or designs.

Décor designers normally have to work to specific deadlines and often confer with producers and other production staff such as props and costume designers, to coordinate style, colour combination and the general visual effect.

Thus, a décor designer interprets the story, drama or play and translates it into visual form, conducting research where necessary. Ideas are then transferred into practical working drawings. Approved designs are then finalised and dates confirmed as to when the décor needs to be completely finished. The décor is then built and painted.

Personal Requirements

  • vivid imagination and practical
  • eye for detail and sense of balance
  • strong sense of proportion and colour
  • a feel for form and space
  • initiative and creative ability
  • able to sketch and sensitive to beauty
  • relate and communicate well with people
  • conscientious and hardworking
  • able to persevere and handle frustration
  • able to work to deadlines and under pressure

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.

What to Study

Degree: A four-year BA (Fine Arts) degree, offered at all universities except Medunsa, provides appropriate background training in Art, especially if subjects such as History of Art and Architecture are included.

Diploma: The N.Dip. Performing Arts (specialising in Theory and Practice: Décor) is offered at TUT and DUT. The duration of the course is 3 years. A fourth year will give the qualification of the B.Tech. Performing Arts Technology (specialising in Theory and Practice: Décor IV). Other courses are available at UJ, CPUT, DUT, TUT.

In-service training is offered at television studios and theatres


  • theatres
  • television studios
  • organisations and industries, to arrange exhibitions

Further Information

CityVarsity Film & Television and Multimedia School
18 Roeland St
Gardens, Cape Town, 8000
Tel: (021) 466-6800

Department Entertainment Technology
Arts Faculty
Tshwane University of Technology
Tel: 086 110 2421

Getting Started

  • get involved in school plays and become computer-literate
  • attend theatre productions and study the sets
  • try to obtain vacation work in a theatre company as an assistant to a décor / set designer
  • make an appointment to speak to a décor / set designer about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

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