A new talk series at Sir John Soane’s Museum, in partnership with Luke Irwin, in which leading figures from across the world of design discuss their practice through a single object. In our fourth talk, Alice Rawsthorn talks to artist and designer Es Devlin.

In this new series, Sir John Soane’s Museum invites a range of practitioners from various design disciplines to select an object that has inspired them in some way, and through it discuss and dissect their own design practice. Inspired by Sir John Soane’s own extraordinary collection, and co-hosted by Will Gompertz, Arts Editor at the BBC, and Alice Rawsthorn, design writer and critic, the series will reflect on the power of objects – large or small, mundane or exceptional, aesthetic or utilitarian – to spark new ideas, and act as a spur for different forms of creativity. Speakers include Peter Saville, Martino Gamper, David Adjaye, Es Devlin, Edmund de Waal and Olga Polizzi.

Es Devlin is an artist and designer. Her projection-mapped sculptures are often created as environments for performing artists, opera, dance and theatre. Her solo works include Mirrormaze at Copeland Park, Peckham 2016; Room 2022 at Miami Art Basel 2017; PoemPortraits at the Serpentine Gallery 2017; The Singing Tree at the V&A 2017; EGG at the XI Gallery in New York 2018, MASK at Somerset House 2018 and most recently her large scale collective poetry work in Trafalgar Square: PLEASE FEED THE LIONS, 2018. Her stage sculptures include collaborations with Beyonce, Kanye West, U2, The Weeknd, Adele, The Royal Opera House, The National Theatre and the London and Rio Olympic Ceremonies. She runs the multi-disciplinary design practice Studio Es Devlin and is the winner of numerous awards including three Olivier Awards, the 2017 London Design Medal, a UAL fellowship and an OBE.

Alice Rawsthorn is an award-winning design critic and the author of the critically acclaimed books, Design as an Attitude and Hello World: Where Design Meets Life. Her weekly design column for The New York Times was syndicated worldwide for over a decade. Alice speaks on design at important global events including TED and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Born in Manchester and based in London, Alice is chair of the boards of trustees of The Hepworth Wakefield art gallery in Yorkshire and the contemporary dance group Michael Clark Company. A founding member of the Writers for Liberty campaign to champion human rights and freedoms, Alice has been awarded an OBE for services to design and the arts.