Tell Me More
Leslie Travers
“Tell me more” is a celebration of the creative talents that cohabit contemporaneity, in its various declinations and nuances of interest, scope, and ambition. The project has been commissioned by Milano Art Guide in 2020 and is curated by Vanessa Ignoti. The interview takes the form of a questionnaire, the same for everyone, with questions focused on the personal and professional sphere.

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word “art”?
I think of it as a lens on the world and the word is also about potential. It is something that exists beyond financial value. It is our expression of what we see and what we feel is important to us to express, whether it is abstract, political, apolitical or purely decorative. Even better, it should never hidden away and it always should be shared. Art is free expression and too big an idea to fit only in all the galleries of the world.

Where do you go to look for art in Milan?
I love going to the Fondazione Prada, the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Museo del Novecento.

What is your worst habit?
Apart from nail biting it is self doubt, but that is useful, as it makes me a disciplined and brutal self parent when it comes to my work.

How do you get your news?
Through the internet. It gives me access to news across the world and the ability to cross check information. There is no such thing as truth only opinions. One of the good things about working internationally is that I am able to to get many opinions from colleagues and the people I meet.

What is the strangest object in your office/studio?
A vintage wooden Ethiopian pillow/neck rest. Who knew a pillow could be successfully made from wood, but it works. I use it for daydreaming.

What’s invisible but you wish people could see?
The bigger picture. We are part of an impossibly big universe. It is magical and we are part of it.

In 50 years, what will people be nostalgic for?
The ability to disappear and fall out of the system for a while. I guess I mean freedom, I really hope that is not the case but we are now being watched in so many ways.

If YOU were a work of art, what kind of artwork would you be and why?
I would be a live performance in a gallery. I would be taken apart over 24 hours and the great times and the hard times in my life would all be held for all to see. Yes I like that idea and people could come and go as they please. The atmosphere would be like a festival. Björk would write the soundscape.

If you were arrested with no explanation, what would your friends and family assume you had done?
Being a designer means standing up and fighting for your work. I have a profound sense of justice and fairness, I care about the environment and animals. It’s worth being arrested for those things. I hope my family would be proud of me for my arrest for hopefully the right cause.

Who are the five guests of you dream dinner?

Yoko Ono, I have so much love for her as an artist and as a compassionate human being.

Sir David Pountney, the director of my last two shows at La Scala. He has opened a box of infinite artistic possibility for me and he is also an amazing cook. Ok I am making the food preparation central to my dinner party!

My husband Richard McBride, he understands my need to do what I do as a career and he is full of insightful and designs and wonderful surprises.

Walter Gropius because he got art education right and I am reaching out to his ideas all the time. Perhaps there would be food through the which we would explore dinner in another way. I am thinking tin foil lights and glue.

Madonna, she lives live her way and she is resilient and strong. She is my guide to getting older but not conforming. A true maverick.

A biopic of your life is in the making. Who is playing you?
Joaquin Phoenix. He could make the inner world of this designer, its joys and intensities, he would make them mean something to an audience. Something beyond the gentle and assured image that I present to the world.

Leslie Travers
Leslie Travers is an international set and costume designer. His extensive work – which has included opera, dance, musical and drama productions – has graced the world’s most prestigious stages. His recent awards include the What’s On Stage Award for Best Production with his design for I Puritani as well as Opera Event of The Year and The International Opera Award for Best Anniversary Production with his design for Grimes On The Beach.