Live Design Award Winner: Es Devlin

Beyoncé The Formation World Tour
Beyoncé The Formation World Tour(Courtesy of Stageco)

The third annual Live Design Awards honor a stellar group of theatre, opera, and concert designers as well as a leading architectural lighting design firm and a non-profit association. This year’s winners include: Es Devlin for brave new worlds in scenic design for concerts and theatre; the design team for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812 (Bradley King, lighting; Mimi Lien, sets; Nicholas Pope, sound; Paloma Young, costumes) for creating a truly exhilarating theatrical experience; Jonathan Deans for being a sound designer extraordinaire and winner of the second annual Abe Jacob Award for Sound Design; Tal Yarden for pushing the boundaries with cutting-edge projection and video design; Sooner Routhier and Robert Long for masterful teamwork for concert design and production; UVLD for continued excellence in corporate lighting design; and the Event Safety Alliance for selfless work in keeping our industry safe.

The 2017 Live Design Awards will be presented alongside the Products of the Year and tenth annual Excellence in Live Design Awards during a reception in New York City on Monday, June 12, sponsored by GLP and Meyer Sound.

Es Devlin with her installation, Mirror Maze

Es Devlin

Opera, concerts, film, theatre, dance, fashion: Es Devlin has designed it all. Starting out in theatre, her work in design has evolved and veered into all these other disciplines. Devlin’s stage designs transcend traditional set design into their own domain, with careful consideration of the use of light, close collaboration with her fellow designers and performing artists, and striking outcomes.

Those more familiar with her work in opera might think of her nearly 20 years’ experience and many productions for London’s Royal Opera House and the English National Opera, to Danish Opera, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and Theater an der Wien. She moves effortlessly between Shakespeare and Kayne West, Verdi and Miley Cyrus, Strauss and Pet Shop Boys. She collaborates with Willie Williams on U2, and she has an Olympics Closing Ceremony (London) to her credit.

Oh, and she also designs costumes. Her work, in fact, has been lauded with three Olivier Awards, two for stage design and one for costume design. Add to that an International Opera Award for Best Designer in 2015, plus dozens of other wins and nominations from organizations worldwide, and it’s easy to see why Devlin is deserving of yet another award, this time for brave new worlds in scenic design for concerts and theatre.

Adele Live In New York

Devlin’s fellow designers, Willie Williams, Patrick Woodroffe, Ric Lipson, took the opportunity to share their thoughts on her extraordinary work.

Es’ talent is her ability to step away from the mundane and embrace the extraordinary and, in doing so, to discover a new design vocabulary. I think it’s the fact that she came to rock ‘n’ roll from the world of theatre and opera that allows her to find a narrative in a world where one doesn’t obviously exist. Her enthusiasm is hugely infectious, and her sense of the ridiculous is refreshing in moments of drama and chaos!

—Patrick Woodroffe, Woodroffe Bassett Design


Es brings a wonderful edge to the rock ‘n’ roll world. She has brought a mixture of art, minimalism and scale. Through her pure and bold statements, she has generated a wonderful body of work that has kept the desire for large stage designs in the focus of the artists. 

Having worked together on the U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour with Es and Willie Williams, the creative team’s journey over the two years of development was a great collaboration. 

Es comes to the touring world with her opera and theatre roots. She doesn’t settle for what is best or easier for load-in or the technical challenges. She pushes the boundaries in different ways, which, in turn, has allowed us all in the design world to continue to think outside of the box more and challenge the preconceived notion of what these shows are and where they are moving for the future. 

—Ric Lipson, Stufish

Don Giovanni, 2014

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