We had the good fortune of connecting with Vivienne Liu and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Vivienne, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt while pursuing my career as a set designer. Whenever I feel 100% safe and comfortable with my design, I instantly know that this is not going to be the best version of what I can create. It is extremely easy to fall into a pattern or format of creating and stop expanding what I can do. And that’s why taking risks is extreme crucial to keep myself moving forward.

Being willing to take risks as a designer is the first step to bringing unique experience to the audience. Risks come with unpredictable situations, where adapting and adjusting to those challenges can often times bring happy surprises! Taking risks forces me to conduct many experiments and try out many things as I design. This process feeds me with much inspirations and excitements that will then transform into designs that I have never imagined before. The results would usually exceed my expectation and excite the audience as well.

Risk taking also brings excitement to my creative team. With the collaborative nature of theatre artists, having a team member who is willing to take risks and always encourages challenges is the best thing one can ask for! As every member of the team is trying their best to resolve something they have little experience with, the challenge is bringing more creative solutions to the table, thus resulting in more successful designs.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a set designer for Theatre, TV and Fashion. I am passionate about delivering unique visual experience to people, that either broadens people’s imagination or evokes emotions and memories that are widely shared by the audience, but often ignored or hidden. I would like to use my designs to tell the stories that were either never told before, or never told in the way it is now. My works are not limited to one format of expression. It covers theatre, tv, film and fashion editorials. Within each of these categories, my design for the environment helps to tell the story clearly, more excitingly and full of surprise.

Coming from a fine arts background, I am not limiting myself to the usual ways of designs. I am always willing to explore new ways of manipulating materials and experiment new ways of collaborating with other design disciplines.

I have design works both in China and in the US. It is exciting to be a cross-cultural set designer who visually tells stories to audience from two very different culture and language systems.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
New York is the best place to visit and the worst place to make an itinerary for. Cuz there’s always too much to do! This will be a plan for the non-COVID scenario, where everything is open and we can fully enjoy the city. We will definitely start the day with a New York style bagel at Russ & Daughters with salmon cream cheese on everything bagel (or maybe a flagel, if you are concerned about calories). Following the bagel, we will have some art planned. Instead of the MET on Upper East Side, I would recommend the MET Cloisters up on Washington Heights, which is a great place to enjoy Medieval art with the beautiful view of the Hudson River.

If it were summer time, we can go disco dancing at Lincoln Center Silent Disco. It’s such a fun thing to do that we will all be enjoying a classic disco night without bothering anyone around us. Summer nights are also great movie times. We can join any of the outdoor screenings at the piers. We will be drinking beer and watching some well curated films that makes the best summer nights in NYC.

Fabric district is always so much fun to check out! They sell some of the most amazingly fabricated textile and accessories in the entire nation. These materials can easily inspire some small creative projects for anyone who is interested in spicing up their outfit. There are also some of the most well designed textile that you can rarely find anywhere else.

One of my favorite places to spend a couple of hours during the weekend is an old record store up on West 72nd street: The Westsider Records. This tiny record store is a hidden gem where you can find some special versions of records you love. It has a pretty decent collection of opera records, and some of them are even signed copies! If we were not busy, we can always sit down with the owner, who is an extremely knowledgeable music critic, and listen to some of the best music in the world.

While still on upper west side, we can explore the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies from Levain Bakery. I am never a cookie person but this cookie is life changing!

We will also visit Chelsea flea market during the weekend to check out some vintage accessories and reimagine those vintage clothes. It’s a great time to get creative with mix and match!

Nights are for bars and New York is the best place for that. Some hidden sake bars down in lower east side are total delights to visit. I would not provide any names here since I want to keep my hidden bar list “hidden”. If you would like join my trip, I will share with you then!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to Design Action for supporting BIPOC theatre artists!!

Website: https://www.vivienneliudesign.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vivienneliudesign/

Image Credits
Fashion Photo: Credit to Atarah Atkinson

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