Es Devlin

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Es Devlin
Born London, United Kingdom
Residence London
Nationality British
Education Central Saint Martins, Bristol University,Motley Theatre Design Course,
Occupation Designer

Es Devlin OBE is a designer. She was awarded the 2017 London Design Medal. Devlin is known for creating kinetic stage sculptures in collaboration with artists including Kanye West and Beyonce as well as installations at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Art Basel and the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony. Her work has been awarded three Olivier Awards, she is a fellow of University of the Arts London and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's New Years Honours List 2015.



Devlin studied music at the Royal Academy of Music from age 12 as a Junior Exhibitioner while attending Cranbrook School in Kent.[1] She went on to gain a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature at Bristol University, writing her dissertation on the American poet Adrienne Rich. A fine art foundation course followed at Central St Martins College of Art and Design[2] before she studied set design on the Motley Theatre Design Course in London under Percy Harris, Alison Chitty and Kandis Cook. While studying Devlin worked as a stage hand for Le Cirque Invisible – the circus created by Victoria Chaplin and Jean-Baptiste Thierrée. She also assisted the artist Damien Hirst on Agongo, an installation at the Richard de Marco Gallery in Edinburgh in 1992.[2]


Devlin was born in Kingston upon Thames to author, campaigner and former teacher Angela Devlin, and Tim Devlin, a journalist.[3] Devlin lives in Peckham, South London.


On completing the Motley Theatre Design Course in 1995, Devlin was awarded the Linbury Prize for Stage Design – part of the prize was her first professional commission: Edward II for the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.[4] More projects followed in small fringe theatres in London including the Bush Theatre (pictured) where she was appointed Artistic Associate from 1997–99.[5] Devlin invited Trevor Nunn (director of the Royal National Theatre at the time) to see her work at the tiny pub theatre – he saw the show and commissioned her to design Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the National Theatre.


Devlin has gone on to design for many of the major UK theatre companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company,[6] Royal Court Theatre, Old Vic, Young Vic, Almeida Theatre, Arcola Theatre,[7] Hampstead Theatre, Soho Theatre, Duke of York's Theatre, Haymarket Theatre, Comedy Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Out of Joint and Theatre de Complicite plus productions in New York, Madrid, Dublin and Tokyo.


Devlin's first major opera commission was Ernst Bloch's Macbeth in 2003 at Theater an der Wien in Vienna. She now designs for many of the major European opera houses including La Scala Milan, El Liceu Barcelona, Netherlands Opera, Copenhagen Opera House, Greek National Opera, Finnish National Opera, Theater an der Wien, Vienna Staatsoper, Dresden Semperoper, Leipzig Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Ystad Festival Opera, Scottish Opera Go Round, English Touring Opera, Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. In 2017 she collaborated as stage designer with Kasper Holten on an arresting, giant Carmen at the Bregenz Festival, issued on DVD within three weeks of its premiere.


Devlin also designs for dance – including pieces for Russell Maliphant, Rambert Dance Company, Northern Ballet Theatre, Sadlers Wells[8] and Cullberg Ballet, Sweden.

Pop music[edit]

In 2005 Kanye West saw images of Devlin's installation for the post punk band WIRE – a collaboration with the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman for the Only Connect Festival at the Barbican Centre. Kanye was in rehearsal for his Touch the Sky World Arena Tour. He commissioned Devlin to re-conceive his show 10 days before the first performance. More projects followed, including Jay Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne Tour' tour, Lady Gaga,[2] Muse[9] as well as Beyonce's 'Formation' tour, arena and stadium tours for Adele, 'Legend of the Fall' tour for The Weeknd, 'Innocence and Experience' tour for U2, 'Fundamental', 'Pandemonium' and 'Electric' tours for Pet Shop Boys, 'Circus' and 'Progress' tours for Take That, 'Ellipse' tour for Imogen Heap, as well as tours for Lenny Kravitz, Mika and Goldfrapp;[10] for many of these projects Devlin provided the creative direction for the performance as well as the stage design.

Devlin's notable large scale project for Take That European Stadium Progress Live in 2011, featured a 20metre high mechanical man[11] that stood up in the centre of the stadium. It was large scale stadium projects like this that led LOCOG to select Devlin and Take That's creative director Kim Gavin to conceive the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Devlin was also part of the design team on the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Design/ creative direction for pop concerts
Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys Pandemonium Tour 2009 / 2010


Devlin's film work includes direction – a music video for Imogen Heap and a one-hour film for London's London IMAX to the music of Nitin Sawhney as well as costume design for Sally Potter's feature film RAGE and production design for short films and music videos by Mike Figgis.


Her TV designs include MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs) – 2011 and 2010,[12] and the Brit Awards 2015 and 2016. Devlin was profiled in the first season of the Netflix docu-series Abstract: The Art of Design.[13]

London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony[edit]

Devlin designed the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony (under the creative direction of Kim Gavin and executive producer Stephen Daldry.[14] )


Devlin was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to stage and set design.[15][16]. She has also won three Olivier Awards, three TPi Awards, two Critics Circle Awards, the Evening Standard Award, the Wall Street Journal Award for Innovation in Design and the London Design Medal 2017.


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "Going gaga for design". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 2016-12-22. 
  3. ^ Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Contributor agreement. "Theatre, dance, opera and cabaret reviews". The Stage. Retrieved 2016-02-04. 
  6. ^ "Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, Attenborough/Devlin, Royal Shakespeare Company, April 2000". 2000-04-19. Retrieved 2016-02-04. 
  7. ^ "Pieces of Vincent, by David Watson at Arcola Theatre - 24 Ashwin St Dalston London E8 3DL - London UK - more on - Listings and showtimes for over 80 Off West End theatres in London UK". Retrieved 2016-02-04. 
  8. ^ Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "theartsdesk Q&A: Stage Designer Es Devlin | Dance reviews, news & interviews". The Arts Desk. 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2016-02-04. 
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Archived from the original on 14 May 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Profile: Kim Gavin, director of Olympic closing ceremony". BBC News. 13 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N12. 
  16. ^ 2015 New Year Honours List Archived 2 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]