An Atlas of Es Devlin - What the Critics Say

Described in a recent Sunday Times interview as ‘Modern Britain’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci’, Devlin's work includes concert tours for Beyoncé, U2 and Adele,  award-winning sets for opera and theatre as The Crucible and The Lehman Trilogy, the AI-influenced ‘Please Feed the Lion’ installation in Trafalgar Square, imagined fashion shows for Louis Vuitton and the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony.

Es Devlin’s first museum exhibition is now open at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York and will run until August 2024. The show features archive material that has been in storage until now, numerous project models and a replica of Devlin’s studio.

To accompany this exhibition, Thames & Hudson have published an exquisitely designed and produced book called An Atlas of Es Devlin. Seven years in production, the book contains foldouts, cut-outs, mirrors and translucent overlays as well as 700 colour images to document 120 projects spanning four decades. One highlight is the selection of 300 colour reproductions of the ephemeral miniature paintings, sketches, paper cuts, and small mechanical models showing the development process of Devlin’s large-scale works.

Andrew Sanigar, the book’s Commissioning Editor called The Atlas, ‘the most complex book production’ he has ever seen in twenty-eight years at Thames & Hudson.

A map of Devlin's collaborators 

The book opens up with a series of interviews and a fold-out section of Devlin’s old sketchbooks before taking the reader chronologically through her projects. Early sketches are paired with a short introductory text by Devlin, which reveals details of process and the early sparks of ideas. 


Unsurprisingly, the book has been a critical and a popular hit. Below are just some of the comments about the book.  

‘Category-defying… An exquisitely produced and immersive artwork in itself, containing photographs, texts, foldouts, pullouts, translucent overlays and cutout pages that reflect the intricacy and imaginative extent of Devlin’s processes, from concept to final iteration’ - The New York Times

‘Sculptural … as much art object as art book, the 900-page tome gorgeously layers stories and interviews, pull-outs of sketches, playing with cut-outs over images as it maps each set from concept to realisation’ - Vogue

‘An exquisitely designed gift book that keeps giving. Nine hundred pages open to offer fold-out sculptures, fragile little paintings, paper cuts, mechanical models, mirrors. They distil in miniature the genre-bending kinetic creations of the artist and designer who has set the stage for Beyoncé and Adele; experimental opera and the London Olympics; Trevor Nunn and AI poetry recitals’ - Jackie Wullschlager, Best Books of the Year, Financial Times

‘Hefty, multitextured … an interactive physical experience, requiring the reader to unfold sections, overlay others, skim and delve. Devlin’s aim with her work is “to restructure the human imagination”, and this book is part of that project … Amazement is her modus operandi – “The role of artists is to amaze people into changing their minds” – but she always returns to the primary text for her inspiration. Now she has created a primary text that will serve as inspiration for the rest of us’ - Times LUXX

'An Atlas of Es Devlin is an immersive, joyful reading experience, an encyclopedia of creativity, and a tribute to the sculptural possibilities of the printed book. It gives form and substance to the artist’s philosophy of why she creates' - Print Mag


'The book reads like one of [Devlin’s] stage sets; that is to say, it’s an experience. Featuring cutouts, foldouts, various paper types and sizes, mirrors, and other materials, the 900-plus-page book shows Devlin is more than a set designer for flashy pop stars but also an artist, a sculptor, a poet, and an activist’ - Fast Company


An Atlas of Es Devlin by Es Devlin, edited by Andrea Lipps is published by Thames & Hudson is available on Museum Bookstore, priced £85.00. Click on the image below to find out more.

An Atlas of Es Devlin available to buy at Museum Bookstore