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My Creative Hero: Es Devlin

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Lisa Riordan, creative director at Imagination discusses why award winning artists and stage designer Es Devlin is her creative hero

My Creative Hero: Es Devlin

As Imagination’s Creative Lead, Lisa directs and manages the Creative Team responsible for delivering award winning events and experiences globally. 

Lisa is responsible for the concept and delivery of the global experiential programme for Jaguar and Land Rover. Her expertise lies in the design and delivery of engaging, highly creative communication solutions for strategically driven projects. 

Lisa has led teams in New York, Cannes and London for leading International agencies delivering cutting edge creative solutions for a range of clients.


LBB> Who would you say is your creative hero? 

Lisa> My creative hero is Es Devlin. She is an award winning artist, stage designer and overall creative powerhouse.


LBB> How long has she been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting her or coming across her work?

Lisa> I first heard of Es Devlin in 2012 when I went to the V&A Museum. I stumbled across a miniature set design she created for an Opera in the Theatre Design gallery and I was mesmerised by it.

In 2017 she produced the ‘Singing Tree’  Christmas installation also at the V&A. Visitors were invited to contribute to the tree and it was brought to life via machine learning to create an audio visual Christmas carol. It was so unique, playful and interactive.


LBB> If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know her and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know her, how did you go about finding to learn more about them and their work?

Lisa> I went to see Es give a talk some years later as part of the London Design Festival. The talk was called the ‘Mechanics of Disbelief’.  She talked about illusion, lighting and how her love of theatre stage sets evolved into her designing for some of the world's most famous music artists such as U2, Kanye West, Adele to name but a few. I thought she was captivating.  Beyond theatre, Es is also well known for her work designing  the Closing Ceremony at the London 2012 Olympics and more recently the ‘Forest for Change’ installation at Somerset House in 2021, as well as a mirrored exhibitions for luxury fashion house Chanel.


LBB> Why is she such an inspiration to you? 

Lisa> Es Devlin is such an influence to me because she is a strong fearless artist who gets her inspiration from so many creative fields: art, poetry, theatre. I love how she fuses all of these art forms together to create the most outstanding creations which are always born out of a simple but compelling narrative.


LBB> How does she influence you in your approach to your creative work? 

Lisa> When I was creating the stage design for Jaguar X Dua Lipa, I drew a lot of insight from Es Devlin. I love how she takes a simple bold shape and then pushes the boundaries of design in terms of scale, content, colour and lighting. It's a magic set of ingredients that create drama and intrigue every time.


LBB> What piece or pieces of her work do you keep coming back to and why?

Lisa> I always come back to Mirror Maze, the installation in Peckham which was commissioned by The Fifth Sense in partnership with Chanel.  I love that it was a one-off concept and very memorable. I also really enjoyed episode three of the Netflix documentary series, Abstract: The Art of Design where Es talks about her approach to design.. She is so interesting and I love how she creates a storytelling narrative for every project she works on. She is a true creative in every sense. I have watched it over and over.


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Imagination Global, Wed, 25 Aug 2021 11:24:18 GMT