Live Design Award Winner: Seven Design Works

Bruno Mars
(Getty Images)
Seven Design Works team, L to R: LeRoy Bennett, Cory FitzGerald, and Tobias Rylander (photo credit Izabella Englund)

For a second year, Live Design recognizes outstanding individual designers and teams for excellence in design achievement. This year, six winners are honored: Abe Jacob, for a legendary career in sound design; Beowulf Boritt, for innovation in scenic design on and Off-Broadway; Laura Frank, for technical excellence in media technology for television, special events, theatre, concerts, film, and corporate; Full Flood, for the best in live broadcast lighting for awards shows and special events; Natasha Katz, for sustained achievement in theatrical lighting design; and Seven Design Works (LeRoy Bennett, Cory FitzGerald, and Tobias Rylander), for creativity in collaboration for concert tours, film, and television. The awards will be presented Monday, June 13, 2016 at Upper Story by Charlie Palmer in New York City.

Seven Design Works

The triumvirate that is Seven Design Works comprises three artists with very different backgrounds. There’s the incomparable LeRoy Bennett, who has been designing shows since he started with Prince in the 1980s, a relationship that lasted three decades, to say nothing of his iconic work with Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Nine Inch Nails, Kelly Clarkson, and Maroon 5, among others. Then along came Cory FitzGerald, in the biz since the age of 12, making a name for himself as one of the top lighting programmers in the world, often for Bennett, before making his mark as a designer with Bruno Mars, Skrillex, Janet Jackson, Justin Bieber, and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few. And really, what is a top design firm without a Swede? Tobias Rylander, born in Sweden and based in Los Angeles, has soared his way into the upper echelon of design achievement in less than a decade, starting on the technical side of the industry and then working with local Swedish bands until he got to take them on international tours, including acts like Lykke Li, Fever Ray, and Miike Snow, and later The xx, Tegan and Sara, Mark Ronson, and Phoenix.

If Trent Reznor is any indication of the talent that flocks to Seven Design Works, and we think he is, the comments from their colleagues are a testament to their design achievement.

Nine Inch Nails Tension Tour. Photo by Marian Sandberg.

Probably my favorite part of the album/touring cycle is brainstorming with Roy about how we can translate the material and intent to the live stage. Roy’s willingness to challenge and rethink the expectations of a live rock show, combined with his exquisite taste in lighting and staging, has been instrumental in fulfilling the vision of what I’m trying to pull off. He gets it; he creates a beautiful, emotionally rich world for me to perform in.

—Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails

It’s no wonder Roy and Seven Design Works are being given this distinct honor. When I was conceptualizing our new tour, Roy was the only one for me. He has such an original eye and an uncanny ability to keep reaching in a way that’s not only inspiring but so suited to the artists he works with. For me, he can take an artist to places they never dreamed and bring an audience to new realms they never knew existed.

—Keith Urban

Cory’s creativity, aesthetic sense, and lighting designs fulfill and enhance the vision I have as an artist for my live shows and productions. His ingenuity and imaginative energy, coupled with his knowledge of set design, creates a magical aura on stage and builds an atmosphere that brings the music, dancing, costumes, and performance to life.

—Jennifer Lopez

We think Roy Bennett needs no badge of honor because what he can do well cannot be singled out with just one honor. His range of achievements from NIN to Beyoncé speaks for itself. The most important thing: Roy fetzt!


I was lucky enough to meet Tobias years and years ago, when we were both dying to get away from Sweden and build something better and more beautiful than what our lives could offer us at that time. Since then, we’ve developed a strong friendship and partnership, and there is not a show I would want to do without him. He is a true star and visionary, making magic out of nothing, always pushing boundaries in the most poetic, simple way. I’m so proud of the world we managed to create and travel in, with light and shadows, dreams and hopes, and, essentially, finally finding our home and place in this world where we can let go and revel in the magic of art.

—Lykke Li, Singer

The 1975 tour. Photo by Tony Woolliscroft.

Tobias has become part of our family, a true creative and conceptual collaborator. Tobias is more than a designer for us; he is our friend and ally.

Jamie Oborne, The 1975 Manager

As a group of creatives and professionals, collaboration is something we live for; it is an integral part of our art and our business. We feed off of other people’s energy and ideas, and build unique experiences that may not have been born had we not been open-minded and pushed each other. Roy, Cory, and his team are like-minded. I know that any time we collaborate with Roy, it will be wonderful. He is on the cutting edge of not only tech and product, but also creative, progressive thought. Put simply: We crush when we work together.

—Tim Smith, Skrillex Manager

Roy is an extremely talented guy, who truly helps a performing artist deliver the best presentation possible, all while exceeding whatever you thought was possible. He’s not only a master of design, technology, and a visual artist of the highest order, but also a consummate music fanatic that knows how best to incorporate his expertise into a live music presentation.  

—Adam Harrison, Maroon 5 Management

Bruno Mars 2015 New Years Eve. Photo by Denise Truscello, Getty Images.

Cory is a manager and producer’s savior. He is a genius and a gentleman who has a sharp eye for every detail of a show: He hears the voice, he feels the music, and he interprets the dance. He’s as masterful at the big explosive dynamics as he is in the intimate and personal moments. He finds meaning in the music, the performance, and the show that complete the visual narrative.

—Benny Medina, Jennifer Lopez’s Manager

I've had the pleasure of working with Seven Design Works for many years with various artist,s and they have delivered on every occasion. Roy, Cory, and Tobias all have the ability to hear an artist's vision out and then physically bring it to life, while also adding their own individual flare to make it perfect. They're the best team out there.

—Brandon Creed, The Creed Management Co.

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