Skip to main content

By Design, a talk series at Sir John Soane’s Museum, in partnership with Luke Irwin, is back for its fourth season.  Internationally renowned designers are invited to discuss their practice through a single object from the Museum. In this talk, Will Gompertz talks to lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe.

Inspired by Sir John Soane’s own extraordinary collection, and co-hosted by Will Gompertz, Director of Arts and Learning at the Barbican, and Alice Rawsthorn, award-winning design critic and author, the series reflects 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. 

Doors will open at 6:00pm, with a chance to explore the museum by candlelight. The talk runs from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, followed by a drinks reception.

Please note that this event has been rescheduled from 9 May.

Patrick Woodroffe portrait

About the speakers

For over 40 years Patrick Woodroffe has created the lighting for rock concerts, operas, ballet, architecture and special events. He has lit and directed shows for artists as diverse as ABBA, Adele, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, The Police and Michael Jackson.

He has worked for over thirty years with the Rolling Stones, beginning his association with the band in 1982. Since then he has acted as the band’s lighting designer and creative director for all their live and filmed performances He was one of the curators of Exhibitionism, the band’s travelling exhibition showcasing artifacts and examples of the band’s work over 50 years.

In the classical world he has performances by many important singers, conductors and orchestras including The Three Tenors, Sir George Solti, and the London Symphony Orchestra. In opera he has created works in houses in Vienna, Salzburg, Bregenz and Helsinki, often using lighting instead of scenery to convey mood, atmosphere and narrative.

Musical theatre credits include productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Batman Live, Showstoppers, Bat Out of Hell, West Side Story, Mamma Mia: the Party and Ben Hur Live. He lit the 25th Anniversary Performance of Les Miserables at the O2 Arena and Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall.

In film, he lit This Is It with Michael Jackson and Martin Scorsese’s Shine A Light, the superb film of the Rolling Stones in performance.

For over twenty years, he has lit and helped to produce the famous Vanity Fair Oscar party in Los Angeles and at the Cannes Film Festival.

He has created some important architectural lighting schemes, including those at the O2 Dome, the Lake of Dreams in Las Vegas, Highgrove House, Prague Castle, the gardens at the V&A, and Somerset House in London. In 2012 he lit the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Olympic + Paralympics Games in London.

With his long-time collaborator Adam Bassett, he runs the international lighting design consultancy, Woodroffe Bassett Design. Patrick is a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) and 2014 was awarded an OBE by The Queen for a lifetime of services to the arts.


Will Gompertz is an author, journalist, broadcaster, critic, and Artistic Director of the Barbican Arts Centre in London, a role he began in the summer 2021.

Immediately before joining the Barbican, Will was the BBC's first ever Arts Editor, a senior journalistic and broadcasting role he started in 2009. Will reported extensively on the arts across the globe, interviewed countless artists, actors, writers, musicians, and directors. He also wrote and presented documentaries for BBC One and BBC Two, and hosted shows on Radio 2, Radio 4, and BBC 5-Live. Prior to joining the BBC, Will spent 7 years as a Director of the Tate Galleries where he was responsible for its BAFTA-winning website, creative direction, and the launching of the UK's first Performance Art festival.

Will has written two internationally best-selling non-fiction books (published by Penguin in the UK) What Are You Looking At? (2012), a history of modern art, and Think Like an Artist (2015) about creativity. Both books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Will’s third book See What You’re Missing, on how artists can teach us to look at the world in a different way, was published in March this year. Will was voted one of the World's Top 50 Creative Thinkers by New York's Creativity magazine and is a Supernumerary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford University.

Picture credit: Patrick Woodroffe, courtesy Patrick Woodroffe/Will Gompertz by Artiq/Lovisa Ranta

Supported by

Event Info

25 Jul 2023

Doors: 6.30pm

Talk: 7 - 8pm

Drinks: 8 - 9pm

Tickets: £30

Sir John Soane's Museum