Tawbox set design

"Heart that captures a moment in time" forms centrepiece of set design for rapper Dave

London-based Tawbox studio intended to reflect our fractured world by creating a set design featuring an aluminium heart that shattered and came back together during recent shows by British rapper Dave.

Tawbox creative directors Amber Rimell and Chris "Bronski" Jablonski designed the kinetic installation for Dave's headline performances at Reading and Leeds festivals, which took place in the UK last weekend.

Heart set design
Tawbox created a cage-like heart for the set

The stage featured large LED screens and an aluminium heart that resembled a chunky cage and was illuminated in various colours as the rapper's set unfolded.

"It was important for Dave that the audience was taken on a journey throughout the performance," Rimell told Dezeen. "One that was full of drama, high energy, dynamics, highs and lows."

Broken heart
The heart "broke" in two during the performance

According to Rimell, Dave wanted the set to represent life in his native London, from where he often draws influences for his music.

"The set served as a reflection of the broken and fractured world we live in today, yet full of music and energy," she explained.

Coloured lights
Various coloured lights illuminated the stage

"We wanted to create a heart that captured a moment in time – right there and then, a heart with difficulty, a heart with ties, a heart that is warm and big, a heart that breaks," she added.

After starting the show intact, the fully formed heart broke in two during Dave's performance of his track Heart Attack from his most recent album, We're All Alone In This Together.

The installation dominated the set

The rapper remained standing at the front of the stage for the almost ten-minute song, while a live band was concealed behind the installation as it glowed a menacing shade of red.

"It was important to decide what the heartbreak would look like," reflected Bronski. "The distance between both sides had to feel big, but coherent."

Later in the performance, the kinetic installation fractured further during Dave's rendition of the track Starlight to reveal four broken "constellations", while by the set's finale, the heart was whole again.

"With the full circle of the heart reforming comes a message of how music brought everyone in the festival field together in the present moment," added Rimell.

Dave the rapper
Dave performed at both Reading and Leeds festivals

A mixture of abstract imagery was displayed on the screens behind the heart-shaped structure, such as footage of crashing waves and the palm of a hand.

The creative directors explained that they worked with live experience studio TAIT to facilitate the movement of the installation, which was aided by both flown automation and "good old manpower".

Most of the set's materials will be repurposed and recycled for future shows, according to Rimell and Bronski.

Heart installation
The heart installation broke and then came back together

BAFTA-nominated Tawbox has designed a number of sets for live performances, including the set for Dave's 2019 tour of his first album Psychodrama.

The studio also took cues from Croydon's brutalist architecture to create the staging for British rapper Stormzy's iconic Glastonbury headline performance of the same year.

The images are courtesy of Tawbox.