Every kid who watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was probably jealous of Ferris’s room. No wonder he wanted to play hooky so bad—the kid’s bedroom was a teen’s interior design dream, complete with sweet band posters and some of the coolest music gear the 80s had to offer. Toronto artist/filmmaker team Sarah Keenlyside and Joseph Clement are such huge fans of Ferris that they’re attempting to build their own fully accurate reproduction of Ferris’s bedroom for this month’s Come Up To My Room event at the Gladstone.
Running from January 21 to 24, this year’s CUTMR is the thirteenth edition of the Gladstone’s yearly art and design show featuring site-specific installations. Room 207 of the hotel will play host to Keenlyside and Clement’s planned recreation of Ferris’s room. They’ve just wrapped up a crowdfunding campaign to help finance the project, and are still looking for help sourcing the many weird and wonderful items that make Ferris’s room so neat. We talked to Keenlyside and Clement about the project.
Studio Beat: Tell us about the concept behind Save Ferris’s Room.
Sarah Keenlyside: We’re going to recreate Ferris’s iconic room in as much detail as humanly possible.
Joseph Clement: I think we are both obsessed with design and old movies, and being filmmakers as well, this seemed like a natural fit. And who doesn’t love Ferris Bueller?
SB: How did you come up with this idea? What is it about Ferris’s room that makes it the coolest teen room ever?
SK: I’ve had the idea in my head for a long time now—since I helped produce a project of a similar nature for Douglas Coupland at Nuit Blanche in 2012. That project involved lots of props, built sets, lighting effects and more. I loved the process of collecting all these elements and wanted to do something like it again. I’m also a long-time fan of Come Up To My Room, which is an art exhibition presented in hotel bedrooms, so I thought, “Which is the coolest and most iconic bedroom I could recreate?” And Ferris’s room was the first to come to mind.
JC: Sarah came to me with this idea and I immediately loved it. With a background in production design and installation art it was the perfect fit. Plus, it would mean plenty of trips to far-out suburban thrift shops, which makes for a pretty good way to avoid responsibility!
SK: When I saw the movie in 1985, it was the coolest because I was slightly younger than Ferris and he seemed like the kinda guy I wanted for an older brother (or boyfriend!). He had the coolest gadgets and an enviable collection of records and music posters. I think every kid who watched that film then wished it was their room. But in 2016, the room has a different significance to me. Ferris had a lot of cutting-edge technology for his time. It was the first time I became aware of the internet, when he somehow magically changed his grades from his own computer on the school’s computer. He also had an early cell phone, which I had seen before, but I didn’t think kids could ever have one. I think the room really captures a turning point into the digital era, and also captures our innocence about the role that technology would one day play in our daily lives.
Anyway, I’d had this idea in my mind forever and Joe is my best friend and my favorite person to go thrifting with, so I asked him to collaborate with me. He’s going to be building the set. We’re attempting to build Ferris’s room to scale, so Joe will be building a room within a room at the Gladstone.
JC: I’ll be sourcing doors, trimming out the room, building windows and backdrops. It’s going to be a full-on installation!
SB: How many items have you found so far?
SK: Not sure exactly how many, but most of the key items have been found. There are a few stubborn items left to go and not much time!
SB: Are there any interesting stories behind any of the found items?
SK: The two items I was most worried about were his E-MU II Emulator keyboard and his IBM 5160 computer. I found the keyboard the first day I started sourcing the props—I walked into Moog Audio on Queen Street and a guy there said he had one and was willing to rent it to me. Finding the computer was really exciting. I learned that there’s a Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario, so I contacted the director Syd Bolton and asked if he could help me find one. Turns out he had one in his collection so he will not only be supplying me with the computer, but is also going to try and program the screen appropriately!
JC: We were really having trouble identifying one of the posters in his room until I stopped by my mom’s work one day. There, hanging in her office, was a painting of King Francois the 1st of France, and lo and behold the Ferris poster was an art print of this painting! One more unidentified item off the list.
SB: What items do you expect to be the most difficult to find?
SK: The one that’s killing us right now is Ferris’s CD player—didn’t expect that! It’s a Carver DTL-100 CD player and I can’t seem to find a single one on Earth for sale. Also, most of the posters are nowhere to be found.
SB: What will you do if you can’t find any of the pieces by the time the event starts? Do you have some kind of back-up plan?
JC: Paper mache? Haha!
SB: Could you tell us a bit about the Come Up To My Room event and how this project will fit into it?
JC: CUTMR has been a long-standing art and design installation show held at the Gladstone Hotel, that occurs each January. Its mission is to provide a space for artists and designers to create work that exists outside of the everyday constraints of most practices. I think Ferris Bueller’s bedroom hits the mark head on.
SB: Any other info you’d like to share with us?
SK: Fingers crossed it works out! People are obsessed with this movie, which means people will be very critical of the result. We know we’ll get some things wrong but maybe those will be like seeing a continuity error in a movie, rather than a catastrophic flaw…
JC: I love continuity errors!
Find out more about Save Ferris’s Room here.