We explore the design details and hidden clues from the first season of Squid Game that might just appear in season two

It’s an understatement to say that Netflix’s Squid Game is one of the biggest shows of all time. The Korean title is an undisputed worldwide phenomenon, with the streaming platform reporting it as its most-viewed original program ever with over 111 million people tuning in. 

In an interview with the Associated Press, director and series creator Hwang Dong-hyuk confirmed that the drama-thriller will be renewed for a second season—much to the delight of fans worldwide. While little is known about what the sequel might hold as Hwang is “in the planning process currently”, one thing’s for sure: the set design will likely play a huge role in the second season, just like it did in the first season. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Hwang revealed that he will “pay more attention to the details [and] not make any mistakes, no matter how small they may be” in order to “bring more joy to the fans, and maybe put more Easter eggs in [the next season]”. 

In anticipation of the second season, we return to the first season to cover all the design details and hidden nuances where the production crew and art team weaved in plenty of surreptitious references. Some of these plot threads and theories might just surface in season two.

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1. The industrial-style dorms

The warehouse-style dormitory is the first space that the players encounter in the game. The pared-back room features stacked beds and ladders, which Squid Game art director Chae Kyoung-sun likened to stacking goods in a warehouse. In an interview commentary with Netflix, Chae noted: “Since modern society is constant competition to climb the ladder, we thought about portraying that in the bed design.”

Eagle-eyed fans will also have spotted the markings on the dormitory walls, which are major clues for the contestants on the upcoming games. As the games progress and the participants lessen, the beds in the dorm are gradually removed and the pictograms are progressively revealed.

If the second season was to focus on the participants, we can perhaps expect a similar dormitory concept as the foundation of the games—where contestants are willing to sacrifice their own humanity in pursuit of vast wealth—would not have changed.

Read more: ‘Squid Game’ Is Officially Netflix’s Most Watched Show

2. The M.C. Escher-style staircase

The maze-like staircases were one of the most striking and distinctive visual elements of the show. The confusing labyrinthine takes design cues from Dutch artist M. C. Escher’s iconic lithograph print Relativity. Chae revealed that she designed the space to be intentionally confusing for the participants of the show, with seemingly zero exits in order to convey a sense of no escape from the games

The multi-coloured space is a sharp contrast from the stripped-back design of the dormitory rooms. Pastel pink and yellow hues dominate the hallways; the pink shade is also a reference to the red uniform colour of the guards that are meant to symbolise “danger, fear and terror”.

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3. The Front Man's living quarters

In his interviews regarding the upcoming season, Hwang indicated a large interest in exploring the storyline of the Front Man, a mysterious character played by veteran actor Lee Byung-hun. The Front Man’s living quarters reflects an opulent art deco-inspired interior. The corridors are lined with geometric patterns that are similar to the lines found on the Front Man’s mask, while gleaming gold accents accompany leather furniture pieces and lavish chandeliers. 

4. The game sets

The games sets—ranging from the cornfields scene for the Red Light, Green Light game to the oversized jungle gym for the dalgona challenge—serve as the backdrop for some of the show’s most tense moments. The playful, childlike environment is an antithesis to the deadly consequences that the participants face.

The set design team intentionally placed multiple hidden details throughout the different sets. “In Red Light, Green Light, I deliberately put a tree without any leaves behind the Young-hee robot to imply that this place was ‘lifeless’,” Chae noted in an interview with Korean JoongAng Daily.

These details also serve as secret clues for the plot; for example, in the marble game that takes place in the different alleyways, Chae arranged for flowerpots behind Kang Sae Byeok (Jung Ho-Yeon) and Ji Yeong (Lee Yoo-Mi). The flowers—planted by the art team themselves—foreshadowed the winner of the game; the flowerpot behind Kang had a live flower, while Ji Yeong’s flowerpot had a dead flower. 

For season two, these intricate sets can be expected to be back. “[The sets] serve as the grounds for the game,” Hwang revealed in a previous interview with Tatler. “They aren’t real but I wanted to use a minimum amount of CG and wanted to show physical aspects so the actors can participate and put realism in it so I wanted to build actual sets. The feel of the set is also different.”

5. The VIP area

The VIP area, where the makers of the game gather and lounge in to watch the show’s final games, is filled with such extravagance that the Front Man’s quarters pale by comparison. The design of this space was the last to be finished as it was one of the more challenging areas.

The jungle-themed space was created to allude to “the world of the animals”, which is also reflected in the glitzy animal masks that the VIPs wear. Foliage and large plants fill the area, while the sofas and armchairs are upholstered in animal prints. A theatrical-like stage features an expansive screen for the VIPs to monitor the participants.

Hwang has also revealed that he might explore the backstories of the VIPs in season two. A popular fan theory that has often drifted up is the possibility of Hwang switching the sequel’s perspective from the participants to the makers of the game, which will probably reveal more ostentatious spaces that the VIPs luxuriate in.

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