Hi Misty, how are you?
I’m very good thank you, just about to head to L.A. to work on a current project.
Please tell us about how you became a set designer? Was it something you were interested in since your childhood?
I was always obsessed with drawing. I went to Camberwell Art School to do a Foundation Course. I studied fine art and textiles and ended up putting on an end of year fashion show for College, in the canteen… It was wild and out of this world. We were turning hundreds of people away because the canteen was bursting at the seams. At the time, Alexander McQueen was creating incredible, theatrical shows in derelict spaces… That’s when I realised I wanted to design live shows. I loved the drama and energy of them. I went on to do a BA at Central St Martins…Whilst there, I would do work experience wherever I could… and evening courses in drafting and film design… I met amazing tutors, who would let me come and work on their shows for free. I kind of missed my twenties because I was always in a dark venue, making a show…. But I adored it …and I still do.
We understand that in a creative role there’s no such thing, but what’s your typical ‘day in the life’ of a set designer?
My studio is in an old brewery. We live in half the building and work in the other half. My team arrive at 9am and we have our coffees and we’ll have a discussion about the projects… and then we’re off. It is a creative whirlwind of drawing, model making, phone calls and emails all whilst listening to music together until the end of the day. I am often in and out at meetings or working away on site. I have some amazing people working with me. I feel very lucky.
Do you have a completely open brief for each project, or are you given an idea to work to?
Every brief is different. Every project has a different motivation. Some are lead by the narrative of the album… some have a script. Each genre is approached differently, whether a touring set, live TV set, opera or theatre project. So you have to approach each one with an open mind.
When did you realise you had become successful?
I’m still working on it.
You’ve designed a significant amount of set tours for a number of artists including Take That, Biffy Clyro, Coldplay and many more, which set was your favourite to design?
That would be like choosing a favourite child!! I don’t have a favourite set design. I put the same amount of love and thought into each one… and they are all completely different. I love Coldplay sets because the design process is hugely collaborative.
What’s been the hardest set to design over the years and why?
Outdoor sets are more of a challenge because you are up against it with the weather. The rain isn’t so bad but wind can be incredibly dangerous when you are building tall structures. The Rugby World Cup closing ceremony was really challenging because we had to clear the entire stadium of set in less than 9 minutes. But we managed it. It was a pretty hardcore challenge though.
We can imagine you work very long tiring days, what’s your favourite way to wind down and relax at the end of the day?
I try to meditate every day, which really helps release the stress of the day… But I also love winding down with a cosy meal with my husband, in front of a film… Sometimes you need to switch off from the real world and lose yourself in an imaginary world.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the industry?
Just work every moment you can. Take every opportunity that arises, even if you feel out of your comfort zone. Be prepared to cancel holidays or nights out, if a job comes up… If you really want it, you have to be hungry for it. You have to work hard and always be kind and fair. If you make a mistake, own it… learn from it… Don’t blame other people… Be the change you seek.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up that you can tell us about?
We have a few projects coming up in America this Autumn which is very exciting. We’re also beginning to make preparations for The Brit Awards 40th Anniversary celebrations.
You own a R4, what attracted you to Ruark Audio?
Great sound… and very simple to use!
And lastly, what’s your favourite song to listen to on your R4?
London Grammar, Nightcall… I adore Hannah Reid’s voice… It’s so haunting and deep. I’ve seen them twice at Glastonbury… And both their albums are amazing to design to late at night … really loud on the Ruark.