Timothy Bird is an award-winning designer and director, who combines moving image design and digital technology with theatrical storytelling.
As co-founder and Creative Director of eclectic London-based agency Knifedge, Timothy’s work spans many disciplines – from theatre and broadcast, to digital campaigns, rock concerts, live events and projection mapping stunts.
Timothy is a firm believer in “creative curiosity” and collaborative working. His latest London theatre production has seen him use sophisticated projection mapping and visual engineering to redesign the former Broadway musical Pippin as a contemporary computer game playing out live on stage.
Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?
I am a designer who specialises in interweaving the moving image with physical stage design. So I’d describe myself as “creatively curious”. Since 2005, backed by my fantastic team at Knifedge, I’ve been exploring the ways in which all media is linked and constantly rediscovering the enormous power and fascination of storytelling.
What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?
I've have just sent off a title sequence pitch for a BBC drama, tomorrow I will be brainstorming the production design of a new musical, and I’ve just discovered Twitter properly. Meanwhile: Nina, John, Jasmine and Asa are working on projection content for a new tour of a favourite West End Show (can't tell you which… would have to kill you with a set of opera glasses); Tom is talking to the World Wildlife Fund; Louise is designing video for Romeo and Juliet; Emily is working on web-design for the people who publish the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Ramon is doing something very clever using Wordpress; Matthew is on the phone to Glyndebourne Opera and Jon is emailing the guys from Snow Patrol. Lucy, Henry, Little Tom, and others are downstairs with Sam, learning about media servers and programming; Lucy O and Aaron are doing mysterious things in foreign parts; and the pigeons are looking on and discussing Ulysses by Joyce (at least that's what it looks as if they're doing).
Who or what inspires you?
Diversity and contrast - anything where art and science are friends and not opposites. Inspirational people who represent this might be Joan Aiken, Saul Bass, Galileo, Le Corbusier, Terry Gilliam, Dianne Wynn-Jones, Steve Jobs, Jules Verne, Jonny Ball, Dr Who… to name but a few. In short - anyone who dares to have a go.
What’s your best project/work to date?
I am most proud of the work Knifedge has done for Crisis (their Christmas e-card fundraising campaigns). The team have had a great creative challenge, and one which genuinely helps the struggle to end homelessness. For myself, as a designer in the world of entertainment, the musical Sunday in the Park with George was the project in which we achieved the most fulfilling collaboration between all the creative and technical elements - an experience I'll not soon forget.
Anything new going on? Or in the pipeline?
We're experimenting with some interesting new technologies which we think will work really well for a couple of upcoming projects. Without giving the game away, the gist is combining some 19th century thinking with 21st century hydraulics and some rather unusual glass.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
Swimming, walking, cooking, eating, reading, watching films, sleeping, gazing into the distance, and living on a boat.
Finally, what tips or advice could you give to other creatives, just starting out?
Be specific, take responsibility, and keep it simple! Remember to listen, and to be curious. And read the Tale of a One Way Street by Joan Aiken.