2 Minutes With … Stu Dingley, Designer at Silent House

On smoothing the road and flattening the emotional sine wave

Stu serves as a director at design and production agency Silent House, which has worked with Disney, Katy Perry, Apple, Drake, Beyonce, Harry Styles, Nike and more.

Stu got his start working for a production company in England. Later, he toured for 10 years as a lighting designer, director and programmer with various shows around the world.

We spent two minutes with Stu to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Stu, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in the small town of Lymington, on the South Coast of England. I moved to London for university, and traveled around the world with bands all through my 20s, eventually relocating to Los Angeles in 2018.

Your earliest musical memory. 

I remember seeing Fleetwood Mac at Earls Court in London with my dad and sister, and feeling the rush of live music with the theatrics of lighting. I used to play piano in bars and restaurants, so I thought performing might be the road for me. But, I also had a love of theater, and the magic and escapism it creates. Rock 'n' roll inevitably reared its ugly head and its grubby little mitts got ahold of me.

Your favorite bands/musicians today.

I've always liked to jump between rock and electronic music. I have a big soft spot for Yellowcard, Foo Fighters, Muse—but love electronic acts like Skrillex, Sam Gellatiry, Floating Points, O'Flynn and TEED.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

Working with Flume. I rode the wave with him in 2015, from relative obscurity to headlining major festivals. We were a bunch of guys in our mid-twenties traveling around the world, drinking beer and experiencing "hangxiety" for the first time. Big highs and lows, but some of my favorite memories. 

One thing about how the live entertainment world is evolving that you're excited about.

Younger and younger people are coming up fast with new takes on show designs and creative styles. In years past, you shadowed designers, embraced their styles, then eventually went about projects knowing the "guidelines." Now, anything goes. Lights and screens are cheaper, and you can make professional-quality content in your bedroom and program a light show on your laptop. Artists are willing to dump more of their fees into production as the ROI is getting bigger, especially through social media.

Someone else's work—in your industry or beyond—that you admired lately.

S E T U P is a company that I've been following. They consistently produce incredible designs, often blending lighting and video. Another group of creatives who are behind the Afterlife series of events have made some of the most beautiful, location-specific production designs I can think of. One of their shows in Tulum, Mexico, used transparent video panels lining the face of a huge natural rock formation. For part of the day, it just showed a waterfall. A beautiful example of minimalism, taste and restraint. A really beautiful way to present an electronic dance music show.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Rick Rubins' The Creative Act: A Way of Being. The book opens the door to a lot of people who don't consider what they do as creative when so many aspects of life involve creativity. It's not a skill you just have, or something you become when you don a scarf and clear-frame glasses. Often, it's simply about tuning in and questioning why something makes you feel the way it does.

Your favorite fictional character.

Frank Drebin from the Naked Gun movies: "There is always risk. You take a risk getting up in the morning, crossing the street ... or sticking your face in a fan."

Someone worth following on social media.


Your main strength as a creative.

Having patience and staying calm. It's easy to get carried away, then come crashing down over budget issues, creative differences, logistical problems, etc. Keeping the road smooth and flattening that emotional sine wave goes a long way.

Your biggest weakness.

I came from a technical background building shows from the ground up. Sometimes it's difficult to focus purely on abstract, creative idea without my technical brain taking over. But sometimes free falling into the dark is where the best ideas develop.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the live entertainment business.

When I finally throw in the towel, I will be heading back to boats and water. I'll start a charter company. Or build a safe space for burnt-out roadies. Even open a dog-friendly, lakeside bar and Neapolitan slice joint called "Shop Talk." 

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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