Information about the Friends set.
There are two standing sets – Monica and Rachel’s apartment, which occupies the centre of the stage, and the coffeehouse, which is stage right. Those stay up all the time because they’re in every show. Stage left is a space where they put their larger ‘swing sets’ (sets that are only needed for one episode). Those three sets face the audience. There’s additional space for sets off to the side and behind – if they have to build sets there, they feed the scene live to the audience on overhead monitors. (This information was for season 1. It has probably changed now.) Friends is filmed every Friday night between 5pm and midnight. The audience of about 250 people sit there for seven hours.
Filled with a selection of kitsch flea market buys, Monica’s apartment broke all the rules for traditional television set design. “Lavenders, greens. yellows and pinks – it sounds like too many colours came out of the can,” says Friends art director John Shaffner. “But it melds together to create a joyous space.” Furniture in here are covered in $125-a-metre fabric.
To viewers, it’s the ultimate dream – here’s a twenty something woman who lives in the super-cool Greenwich Village area of New York, has an antique hand-carved sofas in her lounge room and a terrace with a view.
The Fridge – Monica’s fridge has hardly any food in there, just everyone’s favourite drink. But the fridge isn’t always on so the drinks are often off. Matt LeBlanc says “it smells like a rat died in there.”
The lampshade next to the couch – It might look odd, but this is one of the most talked about accessories on the show. At $3700, it’s also one of the most expensive, but set director Greg Grande says it’s worth it. “It has kind of bohemian feel,” he says.
The couch – Monica’s couch is the only one that’s actually comfortable in real life, which causes tension on the set. “During lunch breaks, Courteney and Jennifer like to take naps on the couch in the girls’ apartment,” says an insider. “The only problem is that there’s only room for one – and there’s always a fight as to who’s going to get it.”
The coffee table – Greg Grande says he was trying to play up the differences between the girls’ house and the boys’ place. “I was trying to make their living room more formal, with a couch, coffee table and club chair,” he says. “If you notice, there is no coffee table in the boys’ apartment. For them, it’s all about comfortable.”
He has a giant television and two recliners in the living room and a foosball table in the dining room.
All the paintings on the walls of Central Perk are commissioned especially for the show, and most of them are replaced every three episodes or so. Never try to eat the pastries on the set, as they are plastic. The coffee however, is real.
Among the bright clutter of Central Perk you might have noticed the fantastic coffee machine. Unfortunately, it’s just an antique top with no working parts. The coffee is kept warm on simple hotplates.