Es Devlin announced as speaker at Design Indaba 2018
Born in Kingston upon Thames, Devlin studied music at the Royal Academy of Music from the age of 12 and went on to graduate from Bristol University with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature before she studied set design on the Motley Theatre Design Course in London. Back then already, Devlin’s brilliance was evident and shortly after she won the Linbury Prize of Stage Design in 1995.
Bored by music concerts visually
Devlin has worked on projects for the likes of La Scala Milan, Leipzig Opera, Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She also did work on Ernst Bloch's Macbeth and Cullberg Ballet. She told Vice Noisey in an interview that when she began, she was bored by a lot of theatres.
I was into music. I was bored by music concerts visually, too. I was visually unexcited and not fascinated by theatre because I found it very old-fashioned. Opera I found exciting because opera designers were beginning to do something more abstract. Then, in the early 90s, I started seeing people begin to use projection, and begin to envelop film and theatre together.
Devlin shot to fame in 2005 when hip-hop artist, Kanye West commissioned her to work on a project for his Touch the Sky World Arena Tour. She also commented on working with West in the interview, saying, “The first thing to say about Yeezus, compared to the other projects, is that Kanye is obviously evolving as an artist every day. His relationship with his design team is also evolving. He really is the director of every decision and one has to say that.”
In search of connection and meaning
In addition, Devlin also did work for the Pet Shop Boys, Jay Z, Adele, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.
A true aficionado at her craft, this is some of Es Devlin's work for @Adele's World Arena Tour ��— Design Indaba (@designindaba) February 11, 2018
The set designer will share more about how she creates the way we experience some of the world's biggest performances and productions @DI_Festival. https://t.co/1pYUCApHIX pic.twitter.com/6r3xyWrwz0
Devlin was also part of the design team on the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and MTV Europe Music Awards (2011 and 2010). In an interview with the Financial Times, Devlin said the brief for the Olympic Games was very brief.
Terrible brief. Desperate brief. A flag. A Union Jack flag. What are you going to do? I really struggled.In 2015, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to stage and set design. She also won three Olivier Awards, three TPi Awards and two Critics Circle Awards.