A24 zine celebrates the extravagance of old multiplexes – especially their carpets

Designer Shira Inbar and illustrator Julia Dufossé join for Dream Theater, exploring the loudness and “liminal stillness” of the multiplex.

24 June 2024

Shira Inbar and Julia Dufossé have been learning a lot about carpets recently. Not just any carpets, Electra-Dye carpets; a type of wacky flooring, usually covered in swirls or planets, that populated movie theatres and multiplexes of the 1990s and early 2000s. “One of the things that really cracked me up is learning that these patterns were designed to camouflage spilled drinks, popcorn kernels, cookie crumbs and general movie theater grime,” says Shira. “A lot of these carpets are still available today! Although they are mostly marketed as decor for home theaters,” says Julia.

These two don’t just happen to be studying for an upcoming upholstery history pop quiz, this wealth of knowledge came from designing and illustrating Dream Theater, issue 25 of the A24 zine. This edition explores the heyday of the multiplex, which if you’ve taken a wander down the more ‘liminal’ side of TikTok or Instagram recently, you’ll know is having something of a resurgence, in videos showing abandoned concession stands, etc. (Before the zine, Foster Kamer explored this history over on the A24 site, inspired by tweets like this.)

“The design of that era was so singular – and each theater was so different – that there was so much for us to dive into,” says Shira. What particularly interested Shira, and became a major focus in the brief from A24, was the extravagance of multiplex design. “[That] culture of excess is so prominent in architecture and design in these spaces, during that time,” the designer says. On the other hand, both Shira and Julia tried to distill a contradictory sense of haziness into the design and illustration, distilling the feeling of “bored tweens” and the time-warp experience of leaving after a film: “As you emerged from the [theatre], you realised ‘oh it’s raining, it’s 6pm…’, says Julia.


Shira Inbar / Julia Dufossé: Dream Theater, Issue 25 of the A24 Zine

For this project, Julia worked with a surreal illustration style, using haziness to guide people through the multiplex’s many spaces. “My favorite aspect of this zine is how seamless the transitions are between Julia’s masterful artwork, and the photos of the original spaces,” says Shira. In the zine, it becomes harder to distinguish between grainy photos of multiplex architecture, screenshots of 90s trailers, and Julia’s illustrations. But other sharper elements cut through, like custom neon typography, or an entire spread dedicated to concession snack packaging – so you’re given just enough of a sugar kick to find your way back.

Elsewhere, in this issue of the zine, you’ll find a catalogue of Electra-Dye carpet patterns, an architectural breakdown of some of the some most memorable theatres of the time, an exploration of the multiplex arcade, and a piece from Evan Collins, from the Consumer Aesthetics Research Institute, about the Y2K Aesthetic and it’s prevalence across graphic, industrial and interior design from the 70s through to the 2000s, when cinemas began resembling space ships.

GalleryShira Inbar / Julia Dufossé: Dream Theater, Issue 25 of the A24 Zine

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Shira Inbar / Julia Dufossé: Dream Theater, Issue 25 of the A24 Zine (Copyright © A24, 2024)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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