Eurovision 2023: Interview with Stage Designer Julio Himede
Back in December 2022 it was announced that Aussie, Julio Himede, was selected as the stage designer for this years Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool.
Julio, who is originally from El Salvador, studied at Griffith University in Brisbane and the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) in Design, and is currently located in New York where he runs Yellow Studio.
Julio has designed sets for many major events and TV shows including 64th Annual Grammy Awards, the 2018-2021 MTV Video Music Awards, the 2016-2021 MTV EMAs, Disney’s Beauty and The Beast: A 30th Celebration and the American Song Contest.
His work on the 64th Annual Grammy Awards was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special.
We spoke to Julio about this year's Eurovision staging, what we can expect and more:
What is the biggest challenge you have had to face as set designer for Eurovision?
"Dealing with so many entries, so many delegations. I have worked on very large scale live broadcasting productions. Normally for the Grammy's or for the VMA's we would have 13 to 18 performances. That is tough in itself, for live broadcasts. However for Eurovision where we have 37 delegations, 37 creatives that we have to turn around very quickly, in less than a minute. It's a very challenging, logistical operation that we have to look after from the very early beginnings when we are designing."
What elements or experiences from the staging this year can we expect that we haven't seen at Eurovision before?
"There is a lot of lighting and technology integrated. We have been working very closely with the lighting designer. There is a blend of video and lighting in certain performances in how they are being used. 95% of the architecture that I have designed with my team is made out of video. From the floor, to the ceiling to the sides. Even in the ceiling there is a really interesting approach on how to accomodate video hanging upside down. That's our unique take with what we are doing.
There is a lot of automation on the set as well. And again I go back to being able to transform the set into so many different creatives. One of the key things is the transformation of the stage. You will see a lot of moving pieces as part of our set."
When it comes to the concept, we know you opted for "the hug" which is quite a universal concept and so appropriate for Europe right now. Can you tell us a bit about that?
"We, the producers and myself and my team at Yellow Studio, when we got the job we started a whole design journey, which I call the "romantic period" of designing where we have liberty to explore all kinds of aspects about Eurovision, about the collaboration of Ukraine and the UK. We went down this path of looking at and being aware of the current situation in Ukraine, how do we identify a concept that is relatable and brings both identities of both countries together.
For example for Ukraine we looked at craftsmanship, the symbolism of embroidery, their musical instruments, their national flower and costumes. And with the UK, specifically with Liverpool we looked at elements like the rich history of music that Liverpool itself has and the culture in Liverpool.
In the end, we sort of concluded that our concept should be a bit more universal. More than ever specifically people of Ukraine and Europe we need a hug. Our architecture of our set resembles a hug. The people of Liverpool are welcoming the people of Ukraine, the people of Europe and the World wit open arms. To say we love you, here we are, let's throw this party together and let's reunite through music."
You can check out our full interview with Julio above where we talk more about this year's stage, his favourite Eurovision entries of all time and more!
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