Willie Williams (set designer)
William Peter Charles "Willie" Williams (born 1959) is a video director, stage and lighting designer for concerts, theatre, and multimedia projects. He is best known for his groundbreaking work with the rock band U2, and is recognised as one of the leading artists in this field.
He was born in 1959 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and raised in Sheffield, England, son of Robert Woodman Williams, a singer & medical practitioner who was an early pioneer in the then fledgling field of physiotherapy and who also sang with South Yorkshire Opera. Williams excelled at mathematics and science in school and planned to study physics at University College, London. The advent of punk rock caused him to enter the music scene instead, and he began doing lights for various bands such as Writz, Deaf School and Stiff Little Fingers.
Willie Williams has been responsible for the design of U2's tours from 1982 onward, most famously the extravagant, bewildering Zoo TV Tour (1992–93), and most recently the U2 360° Tour (2009–11). He has also worked with musical artists such as REM, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Darren Hayes and George Michael.
Williams has designed for the Montreal-based dance company La La La Human Steps. Other collaborations have been with Laurie Anderson, Marianne Faithfull and the Kronos Quartet, most notably on Sun Rings, a joint effort with NASA that combines the string quartet's music with video and audio material collected by the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft.
Theatre shows Williams has worked on include We Will Rock You, Little Britain Live, French and Saunders Still Alive, Steve Coogan is Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful Characters, The Fast Show Live, Barbarella and Pam Ann.
He has exhibited his own kinetic light sculptures in several art galleries. The sculptures, entitled "Lumia Domestica", create kaleidoscopic projections in the tradition of Nicolas Schoffer and Thomas Wilfred by refracting light through household glassware. Other public works include the creation of lighting installations at London's Southbank Centre and within Canterbury Cathedral; "SkyChurch", a multimedia performance space at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington, and a permanent exhibit at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.
- 2010 Live Production of the Year (U2360), Lighting Designer of the Year and Video Visionary, Total Production Awards, London
- 2009 Redden Award for Excellence in Design, USA
- 2008 Excellence in Design Award (George Michael, 25 Live Tour), Live Design, New York
- 2007 Best in Book, Creative Review Annual (George Michael, 25 Live Tour)
- 2006 Metropolitan Home, Design 100
- 2006 Lighting Designer of the Year, Total Production Awards, London
- 2003 Lighting Designer of the Year, Total Production Awards, London
- 2002 Lighting Designer of the Year, Live Magazine Awards, London
- 2001 Eddy Award for Excellence in Design, New York
- 2000 Top 25 Visionaries in Entertainment, Wired Magazine, USA
- 1992 Lighting Designer of the Year, Lighting Dimensions International, USA
- 1992 Lighting Designer of the Year, Performance Magazine, USA
- 1987 Lighting Director of the Year, Performance Magazine, USA
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