Make a big difference to The Big Idea.

Help us tell the most creative stories.

Become a supporter

TBI Q&A: Robin Rawstorne

Production designer Robin Rawstorne.
Robin Rawstorne has worked on a range of high-profile projects since moving to NZ four


Robin Rawstorne has worked on a range of high-profile projects since moving to NZ four years ago, including his upcoming set design for the NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.

Robin is also enjoying his new environment, harvesting honey and staring out from his studio over the bush clad hills of Titirangi. “It sure beats a concrete studio in darkest Hackney.”

See his answers, in the comment box below, to The Big Idea community questions about his work on The Marriage of Figaro.

* * *

Robin Rawstorne was born in Paris, and moved to England when he was 7 years old.

Based in London, he followed his passion for storytelling using innovative and stimulating design within the 3D environment experience, and studied under Alison Chitty at the world renowned Motley Theatre Design School.

He immersed himself in large scale opera productions with acclaimed Production Designer Antony McDonald amongst others, working for The Metropolitan Opera House NYC, Le Garnier Paris, Bregenz Opera Austria and Munich Stadt Theatre. He also worked on a variety of theatre projects which included The Peter Hall Company and The Royal Shakespeare Company.

While based in Europe, Robin worked on an extensive variety of global creative projects within the fields of opera, theatre, live events, advertising, exhibitions and television.

Four years ago he moved to New Zealand where the diversity in projects continued. Some of the highlights have been – Architect for St Clare’s Garden Centre in Te Kuiti, Designer for NZ Vodafone Music Awards for the last three years, Creative Director for The Living Lounge / Splore Arts and Music Festival 2008 & 2010, Experiential Designer for Absolut Collaboration, Set and Costume Designer for Southern Opera’s The Magic Flute.

This year he is designing his third play for The Auckland Theatre Company and is Set Designer for the NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.

During what hours of the day do you feel most inspired?

Dawn and Sunset walks with my dogs in the Waitakeres

How would a good friend describe your aesthetic or style?

Magical on a good day!

What aspect of your creative practice gives you the biggest thrill?

Working in teams of inspiring people and pushing them to excel

How does your environment affect your work?

Hugely I now realize, as I stare out from my studio over the bush clad hills of Titirangi, it sure beats a concrete studio in darkest Hackney.

Do you like to look at the big picture or focus on the details?

I love the big picture, the wilder the better, plucking the ideas from the ether as it were.

I also greatly enjoy the process of working with different disciplines on the details.

What's your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in the creative industries?

Adapt to every situation, with conviction, dedication, and creativity.

Which of your projects to date has given you the most satisfaction?


Who or what has inspired you recently?

My amazing beehive, which I started this year and I just harvested 90 pots of delicious Bush honey.

If you could go back and choose a completely different career path to the one you've chosen, what would it be?


What place is always with you, wherever you go?

Early childhood 1970s south of France.

What's the best way to listen to music, and why?

Always Live, immersed in the glorious world of live sound.

You are given a piece of string, a stick and some fabric. What do you make?


What's the best stress relief advice you've ever been given?

The storm really doesn’t matter till the storm begins to get you down.

What's great about today?

Starting work on three new projects.

What’s your big idea for 2010?

I would like a million dollars to make the most amazing event on an island. Any takers? You won’t regret it!

The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro is a comic opera.  The action takes place over one crazy, passion-fuelled day. Bustling with preparations for their imminent nuptials Figaro and Susanna's love and fidelity are tested to the limit as the couple scheme to outwit the philandering Count Almaviva's designs on the bride! A neglected Countess and an amorous adolescent add to the hi-jinks as a hilarious jumble of plots, double crosses and seductions ensue.

The NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro opens in Wellington on Saturday 15 May and in Auckland on Thursday 3 June. Further info

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

6 May 2010

The Big Idea Editor