About Vivian Lu

Vivian Lu is a visual designer who has worked on exceptional stage to much market applause. In the past 5 years she has worked on over 60 productions from theatre sets to costume designs, runway shows to large elaborate events, both regionally and internationally. Her main aim is to break the mould of traditional theatre, and challenge boundaries by exploring daring concepts. She experiments with different mediums and technologies to explore methods that best evoke emotional connection for the audiences. She believes thats constant curiosity and awareness of your everyday surroundings is the best way to find your identity as a designer and the best way to allow audiences to relate to the work and world you create.

Interview with Vivian Lu

Vivian Lu ("VL") interviewed on Wednesday, 10 June.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

VL : I have been working as a scenographer for 6 years after attending Central Saint Martins in London. From theatre set visuals to costume designs, runway shows to large, elaborate events for corporations such as Banco Nacional Ultramarino Macau, I have delivered over 70 shows in different corners of the world including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Portugal, London...etc.

How did you become a designer?

VL : As a stage designer, I am constantly trying to find ways to strengthen connections between audiences and my set design. Recently i have been attempting to bring in new technology and innovations to traditional theatre. Although nothing can replace traditional stage, i truly believe in utilising more technology as a medium to further elevate a stage allowing more interaction and immersion for the audience. Since i was a kid, I always knew that my passion lay in visual communication. I was known to be the "crafty kid" in school, involving myself in painting props or sets for our school plays. Thus I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the design industry. However it wasn't until my foundation course where I got to try out different art mediums that I was so sure that 3d Art Installation was my calling

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

VL : I usually start with very little research and roughly sketch my initial ideas out. Then I would make prototypes and models to get a sense of space sizing in the space. Rough Model that doesn't require any accuracy in regards of materials and texture. I usually use foam boards or paper to get the flexibility to change things quickly. I'll continue this process of drawing and modelling until I come up with my first design. I usually use AutoCAD as I do modelling to get a more accurate sense of size.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

VL : The most exciting phase is when you first came up with your first initial idea for the design, as it creates so much different possibility on how you can create space and how you can tell the story visually. Its always very fulfilling and great to hear different interpretation from the audiences and to see what they have gotten out of my set design.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

VL : I was raised in Macao, a city in China that was previously colonised by Portugal. The multiculralism, specifically the influence of East meets West became a strong influence in my designs.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

VL : I always believed that staying curious will get me to places. I firmly believe in experimenting, trial and error and being brave when it comes to the production in design. I remember spending days sending out my portfolio to different theatres and companies that i looked up to, trying to get my name and designs out there. My dream project would be to be part of the design team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Bejing.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

VL : As Alec Soth once said, “Find your eyes", I would encourage new designers to learn everything and anything even if it does not seem to be relavant or useful. This will open your horizons to new possibilities and potentials that you might not have dreamt about. Let your mind run free and be as wild as you wish. Stay curious and experiment with different mediums, as that will guide you in defining who you are as a designer.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

VL : There are many interpretation of "success". There are always going to be designers that have worked more jobs or have worked in more famous theatres than you. However, the key to really enjoy your work and be "successful" in your own work, is to have your own opinions in matters; your own way to tell a story and share what truly matters to you.

What is your day to day look like?

VL : Coffee is the first thing i think about when i get up. I like to head to the coffee shop i always go to and get my "thinking" tasks done before heading back to my studio to draw & sketch. I like to write my to-do lists for the week in the beginning of the week as i'm normally tending to a few projects at the same time.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

VL : I watch at least one theatre show a week (online right now due to COVID-19) to familiarize myself with different stage designs out there. Although it is important to stay up to date with the design industry, it is just as important to tell stories that matter to you even when it seems irrelevant to others.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

VL : A good design is able to capture people’s imagination and encourage thoughts or spark conversations that may not have existed before.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

VL : I dont, theres always things that you would like to change when you see your work at the opening of performance.

What is your biggest design work?

VL : "Absinthe" is one of my favourite pieces I've done because it truly embodies my transformtion from a designer to an artist. With Absinthe, I tried to merge different forms of senses together (sound and sight) and to magnify them to create a lasting visceral experiences for the audience.

Who is your favourite designer?

VL : Es Devlin! I have seen all of her interviews, and sometimes watch it over and over again while I'm working. It motivates me so much when I'm doubting myself or when I am having one of those "design blocks".

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

VL : I'm lucky enough to be able to travel the world and experience different cultures which has a huge impact on my designs. I am currently in Dortmund doing a research program with The Academy of Theatre and Digital in Dortmund.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

VL : I work alone as a set designer, but I have a company with my best friend working in commercial art installations. I am very lucky that I am compatible with a partner that shares the same passion as I do. I think the biggest challenge in my profession is not the design itself but to be able to put something out there that represents you the way you want to be seen.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

VL : I think attending the award is certainly a great way to promote myself as a designer worldwide, and by answering all these really long and painful question has helped me reflected on my design career. Find out more o my instagram page: vlu.designs

Vivian Lu Profile

Absinthe  Production Design

Absinthe Production Design design by Vivian Lu


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