Es Devlin

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Es Devlin

Es Devlin in Studio.jpg
Devlin in 2016
Esmeralda Devlin

(1971-09-24) 24 September 1971 (age 50)
Kingston upon Thames, London, England
EducationCentral Saint Martins
Bristol University (BA)
Motley Theatre Design Course
OccupationArtist and designer
Spouse(s)Jack Galloway
Awards3 Olivier Awards
Royal Designer for Industry

Esmeralda "Es" Devlin OBE RDI (/ɛz/; born 24 September 1971)[1] is a London-based artist and stage designer[2] who works in a range of media, often mapping light and projected film onto kinetic sculptural forms.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Devlin was born in Kingston upon Thames, London, on 24 September 1971.[5][6] She studied English literature at Bristol University, followed by a Foundation Course in Fine Art at Central St. Martin's eventually specialising in theatre design.[7] While undertaking her studies, she prepared the props for Le Cirque Invisible, the circus company founded by Victoria Chaplin and Chaplin's husband, Jean-Baptiste Thierrée.[7]


Her practice began in narrative theatre[8] and experimental opera[9][10] After a period working for London's Bush Theatre, she first worked for the National Theatre in 1998 when Trevor Nunn asked her to design the set for a revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal.[7] She has since worked on sculptural designs for the theatre.[11][12] "Each of her designs is an attack on the notion that a set is merely scenery" wrote Andrew O'Hagan in The New Yorker in 2016. Devlin "is in demand because she can enter the psychic ether of each production and make it glow with significance."[7]

In September 2018 it was announced that Devlin will design the UK Pavilion at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai.[13] Known as the Poem Pavilion, it will feature an illuminated 'message to space' to which each of the Expo's anticipated 25 million visitors will be invited to contribute.[14] Devlin is the first woman to be commissioned by the UK since world expositions began in 1851.[15]

Her luminous fluorescent red Fifth Lion sculpture roared A.I. generated collective poetry to crowds in Trafalgar Square during London Design Festival September 2018.[16] The Singing Tree, her collective choral carol installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, fused machine-learning with sound and light[17] and was viewed by over ten thousand visitors during Christmas 2017; her Mirrormaze[18] generated queues around the block in Peckham in 2016. Further explorations of labyrinthine and map based geometries led to the 7000 square foot hotel room odyssey Room2022[19] at Art Basel Miami 2017 and the projection-mapped ovoid model city MASK at Somerset House 2018.[20]

The designer collaborated with the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli on an interpretation of The Order of Time read by Benedict Cumberbatch at the legendary rooftop art space, BOLD Tendencies in Peckham in September 2018.[21][22]

Devlin has made large scale touring stage sculptures in collaboration with Beyoncé,[23] Kanye West,[3] Adele,[24] U2,[25] The Weeknd,[4] Lorde, Pet Shop Boys,[26] and the Royal Opera House[24] in London. Devlin also designed the London Olympics closing ceremony in 2012[23][27] and the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics.[28]

Her work has received three Olivier Awards.[29] She is a fellow of University of the Arts London,[30] and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours.[31] In 2018 she was elected a Royal Designer for Industry for Theatre Design.[32][33]

Devlin is the subject of episode three of a Netflix documentary series: Abstract: The Art of Design.[34]

In 2019, Devlin delivered a talk at the TED conference in Vancouver entitled 'Mind-blowing sculptures that fuse art & technology'. It was later selected by TED curator Chris Anderson as one of the best talks of 2019. [35]

Personal life[edit]

Devlin is married to the theatrical costume designer Jack Galloway; they have two children and live in London.[36]


  1. ^ Nayeri, Farah (1 December 2020). "Es Devlin Takes a Turn at Center Stage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  2. ^ Acharya, Dipal (6 September 2018). "My London: Es Devlin". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Polianskaya, Alina (11 September 2018). "5 installations to catch at London Design Festival". Design Week.
  4. ^ a b Staff, Adweek (10 June 2018). "11 Visual Artist Who Enlighten, Inspire and Bring the Impossible to Life". AdWeek.
  5. ^ Nayeri, Farah (1 December 2020). "Es Devlin Takes a Turn at Center Stage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  6. ^ Barnett, Laura (9 July 2013). "Es Devlin, set and costume designer – portrait of the artist". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d O'Hagan, Andrew (28 March 2016). "Imaginary Spaces". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  8. ^ Sinclair Scott, Fiona (22 September 2018). "The transformative and magical power of Es Devlin's stage design". CNN.
  9. ^ Campos, Guy (4 September 2018). "Carmen on the lake stage prefers projectors to LED". AV Magazine.
  10. ^ Williams, Holly (7 February 2015). "Es Devlin interview: Meet Britain's most astonishingly prolific designer". Independent.
  11. ^ Ryder, Bethan (September 2018). "Smart Set". Wallpaper.
  12. ^ Gibson, Eleanor (7 March 2017). "Es Devlin creates bowl-shaped set as backdrop for virtual reality-themed play". Dezeen.
  13. ^ "Es Devlin OBE to design UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai".
  14. ^ Walsh, Niall Patrick (27 September 2018). "Es Devlin to Design the UK'S "Poem Pavilion" for Dubai Expo 2020". ArchDaily.
  15. ^ Fulcher, Merlin (27 September 2018). "Set designer Es Devlin picked for UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai". Architects' Journal.
  16. ^ Burroughs, Milly (24 September 2018). "The Power of Public Spaces, According to Es Devlin". AnOther.
  17. ^ Degun, Gurjit (1 December 2017). "Beyoncé set designer Es Devlin creates 'singing tree' for V&A". Campaign.
  18. ^ Steven, Rachel (21 September 2016). "Es Devlin creates mirror maze installation in Peckham for Chanel and i-D". creative Review.
  19. ^ Zara, Janelle (9 January 2018). "Beyoncé and Kanye's Stage Designer Is Making Major Waves in the Art World". Architectural Digest.
  20. ^ Knight, Bill (19 May 2018). "Highlights from Photo London 2018 – something old, something new". The Arts Desk.
  21. ^ Buck, Louisa (24 September 2018). "Es Devlin, Carlo Rovelli and the Multi-Story Orchestra light up Peckham". The Art Newspaper.
  22. ^ Glover, Julian (11 September 2018). "Bold Tendencies is bringing opera to a multi-storey car park in Peckham". The Evening Standard.
  23. ^ a b Morris, Ali (15 September 2017). "Stage light: supercharged set designer Es Devlin on 20 years of triumphs and what's next". Wallpaper.
  24. ^ a b Rawsthorn, Alice (18 September 2018). "How Visionary Stage Designer Es Devlin Recreated Her Magic In Her London Home". W.
  25. ^ Hass, Nancy (1 October 2015). "Meet the Artist Behind Kanye West's Elaborate Stage Sets". The Hollywood Reporter.
  26. ^ Hall, James (21 July 2016). "Pet Shop Boys' Royal Opera House gig was utterly bonkers – review". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  27. ^ Aspden, Peter (30 May 2014). "Es Devlin's designs for (cultural) life". Financial Times.
  28. ^ Medford, Sarah (2 November 2016). "Es Devlin's Otherworldly Stage Sets". Wall Street Journal.
  29. ^ Fishwick, Samuel (19 September 2016). "Es Devlin on working with Kanye West and Beyonce, and creating her first solo exhibition". The Evening Standard.
  30. ^ McLaughlin, Aimée (6 February 2018). "5 talks to catch at Design Indaba 2018". Design Week.
  31. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N12.
  32. ^ "The Royal Designers for Industry 2018 have been revealed". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  33. ^ "UAL talents Es Devlin OBE and Ben Terrett elected Royal Designers for Industry". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  34. ^ "Netflix launches new documentary series Abstract: The Art of Design with a stellar lineup". 19 January 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  35. ^ "Curator's Picks: Top 10 TED Talks of 2019 | TED Talks".
  36. ^ Rawsthorn, Alice. "How Beyoncé's Set Designer Created the Same Magic In a London House". W Magazine. Retrieved 9 June 2019.

External links[edit]