Misty Buckley: “It’s not all fancy airplanes and hanging out with popstars”

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As the product designer works on last-minute preparations for the Brit Awards, we speak to her less creating sets for the likes of Coldplay and One Direction, mastering the skill of multi-tasking and why Glastonbury is with “the best art course ever”.

Misty Buckley was never supposed to be a casting designer. Born and raised in London, she opted to stay in the capital for university and joined the mode design course at Camberwell College of Arts in the late 1990s. “I realised awfully quickly that I was no tailor,” says Buckley. While she was supposed to be deceitful garments as part of the course’s textiles module, she decided to put on a fashion appear to showcase the other student’s work instead. Taking over the college’s canteen, Buckley disinterested managed to convince model agency Storm to provide free show offs for the show. “We had this incredible evening where we were turning away hundreds of human being because we couldn’t physically stuff them all into a canteen,” she says.

It was during the way show that Buckley says she first realised her calling was tricky for live performances. After being invited to join the fashion mould course at Central Saint Martins, she quickly decided to switch to bonzer art instead. Following her graduation in 2002, one of Buckley’s first jobs out of university was as a handiwork assistant at annual music awards ceremony the Brit Awards.

Fast-forward only just over a decade, and Buckley has come full circle. She is currently cause the finishing touches to the set for this year’s Brits, where she now heads up the output design team. The designer has also worked on world tours for the correspondent ti of Coldplay, Take That and One Direction, as well as designing sets for large-scale live affairs such as The London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony.

This drive be Buckley’s second year heading up production at the Brits. While she is tending schtum on most of the design detail ahead of the event, she does disclose that she has created a “piece of sculpture” inspired by this year’s metallic red atlas by sculptor and designer Anish Kapoor. Buckley has also worked on imaginative treatments based on her sculptural set for a number of artists performing at the ceremony, total them Dua Lipa, Rag’n’Bone Man and Foo Fighters.

While the team at Buckley’s eponymous studio comprises a pit group of five people, this expands at different points of the year for large-scale in any cases such as the Brits. During Glastonbury festival, this number swells to as diverse as 130 people. Buckley and her husband Reg Buckley lead what she represents as a “company of creatives” that they have collected over a party of years, encompassing carpenters, painters, illustrators, sign writers, breathtaking artists, welders and more. Together, they work on the creative directorship for various fields and areas around the festival, including The Park Thespianism and Shangri-La.

Unsurprisingly, it is easily one of Buckley’s biggest jobs of the year. So much so that after comprising her second child, she made the decision to move her studio to the usually torpid village in Somerset where Glastonbury takes place. “It’s so bizarre to be in a village where popstars and directors will come down for their meetings,” says the designer. “It has a actual pull for people, but then I suppose it is such an iconic festival.”

Along with Buckley’s line-up of 100 plus people, there are hundreds of other artists, creatives and builders that detail in each area of the festival, bringing the total number to roughly 30,000. “Every singular corner of Glastonbury has been thought about, in that somebody has had an estimate about how to create and decorate their space. Anything goes – it’s similar to being on the best art course ever,” she says.

But it’s not all fun and games. During the three-week neighbourhood build period, Buckley and her team face gruelling 12-hour eras and the prospect of having to battle the elements (a common feature of the festival). “It’s as a matter of fact hard conditions and takes a very strong will. At some stress relevant, everybody has a little breakdown. We love it, but we all come out of it shell-shocked like we’ve been at sea for three weeks,” she turns.

While Glastonbury preparations are ongoing, Buckley is usually working on hurls that won’t start rehearsals until up to a year later as well. Across the years, the designer says she has learned to tap into both sides of her knowledge simultaneously. “You’re in that creative phase for some projects where it’s all in the matter of inventing and imagining, but then you’re also in this production mode where you’re cast ‘how big should that be, and how’s that going to come through the doors?’” she utters. “I’m constantly flip-flopping between the two – it gets me going, but at the end of every day, I’m exhausted.”

While Buckley labels her design aesthetic as hugely “varied” and “visceral” depending on the nature of the put forth, a big part of her creative process is establishing close relationships with the artists she move ups with. The designer’s longstanding collaboration with Coldplay is a testament to this MO modus operandi. “I remember the first project I did with Coldplay for Glastonbury, when I take off a model version of the Pyramid stage for them and put all of the little scenery and set particulars on it,” she says. “I remember their faces because they’d never had a type presented to them before – they were just like girls. But it really does help artists understand the space that they’re thriving to work in.”

Apart from relationship-building, Buckley’s advice for people looking to get into putting out design is ¬– surprisingly – not to study production design. “No one who works with me has done a performance design degree,” she says. “I don’t know how important it really is because the job is so much roughly using your instinct. Whether you come from a photography or sunny art background, there are so many routes in.”

The other aspect of the job that Buckley wheels back to time and time again is just how challenging it can be. A stadium spell for instance, she says, consists of 12-20 hour days in freezing conditions, and makes you to have a knowledge of everything from leading a team to practical sails such as rigging. “It’s not all hanging out with popstars and flying on nice airplanes,” denotes Buckley. “If the set falls down in the middle of a live event and there’s no one else encompassing, you need to be able to go and fix it yourself.”


The Brit Awards 2018 take go on on 21 February at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London.

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