Dezeen Magazine

Es Devlin's folding star destroyer looms over The Weeknd's world tour

An origami paper plane and futuristic star destroyer come together in Es Devlin's set design for The Weeknd's Starboy: Legend of The Fall tour, which kicked off in Stockholm on Friday.

The Canadian singer performs under a giant pointed structure that looms over the stage, lighting up and folding into different configurations to suggest the movement of an aircraft.

Devlin told Dezeen that the aesthetic came directly from The Weeknd, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, who is behind the number-one hit Can't Feel My Face, and the Daft Punk collaborations Starboy and I Feel It Coming.

"Abel and the [record label] XO creative director La Mar Taylor have developed a very clear visual aesthetic across all that they produce, and they had a strong sense of the look of the tour at the outset," Devlin told Dezeen.

"We considered that the arc of the show could be compared to a flight path: preparation, lift off, cruise, mid-flight complication, crash landing, come down, then relaunch."

As these exclusive rehearsal images show, the structure starts as a flat triangle, with wings that slowly draw up closer to its centre. The set is reconfigured when the craft dives forward nose-first, when it bows along its middle, and when the wings split apart from each other.

The design is intended to connote both the analogue and the futuristic – just like the music of The Weeknd.

"The music fuses analogue soul and futuristic electronica, so the scenic element we devised references both origami paper plane and futuristic star destroyer," said Devlin.

The craft's underlying aluminium truss structure is covered with a grey fabric that is projected onto throughout the performance. The projections are mapped to the structure by Tait Towers, so they move accurately with it.

Further effects are introduced through VDO Sceptron light-strips that outline the aircraft shape, and through an attached lighting rig that hangs below it.

After years of designing for the theatre, Devlin now regularly creates sets for some of the world's biggest musical acts, including Kanye West, Lady Gaga and U2.

Earlier this month, the British designer caused a stir with her set for singer Katy Perry's politically charged Grammy Awards performance, which featured a picket fence that grew into a wall.

She also designs catwalk show sets for the likes of Louis Vuitton and created a scent-infused mirror maze for Chanel in London.

Devlin also features in the new Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design, which profiles eight designers representing different fields in the industry.

The Weeknd's tour now continues onto Europe and North and South America, finishing up phase one in the USA in June.

For job opportunities at Es Devlin, visit their company profile on Dezeen Jobs.

Project credits:

Creative direction: La Mar Taylor
Production design: Es Devlin
Lighting design: Sooner Routhier
Art direction: Drop
Built by: Tait Towers

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