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New Book DRAMA by Tony Award-Winning Set Designer David Rockwell to be Released

Woven through the book are a series of conversations between Rockwell and impressive figures from various creative backgrounds. The book will be released on May 12.

New Book DRAMA by Tony Award-Winning Set Designer David Rockwell to be Released

Drama, the new book by architect and Tony Award-winning set designer David Rockwell with Bruce Mau, edited by Sam Lubell, published by Phaidon will be released on Wednesday, May 12. Pre-orders are now being accepted at

Inspired by an early life rooted in the theater, Rockwell has long drawn on aspects of performance to frame and enhance his built work, which ranges from hotels and restaurants, theaters and museums, to set and exhibition design, to workplaces, playgrounds and academic buildings. He aims to create a story within any space he designs, evoking a sense of performance, showmanship and above all - Drama.

David Rockwell said, "I've never thought about my love of theater and architecture as two separate passions. These pursuits both spring out of the exact same desire to spark human connection, and they both can draw on the same set of principles in order to tell a cohesive story. Ultimately, both architecture and drama are defined by their intended audience: the people who inhabit and animate them - and that's something that has never felt so true or so poignant to me as it does right now."

Phaidon is delighted to publish Drama, a rigorous exploration of Rockwell Group's system of ideas and methods in action, found in examples from both architecture and theater, and both inside and outside the firm. Drama explores the principles at the core of Rockwell's method, devoting chapters to six fundamental concepts: Audience, Ensemble, Worlds, Story, Journey, and Impermanence. Each chapter demonstrates how these principles may be applied not just to theater, but to a wide range of creative disciplines.

"Audience" explores the initial seduction of the viewers, which is followed by an intimate interaction and embrace. "Ensemble" examines the resilient, collaborative power of the group and the importance of sharing expertise. "Worlds" unlocks the immersive power of creating fully realized environments. "Story" reminds us of the power of an engaging narrative. "Journey" echoes both our winding paths in life and the visceral power of movement. "Impermanence" shows us the raw, quick-changing impact of both theater production and temporary design, which lends life and vibrance to both.

Woven through the book are a series of conversations between Rockwell and impressive figures from various creative backgrounds. These talks emphasize the value of cross-disciplinary creativity. Featured interviews include architect Daniel Libeskind, award-winning music producer and composer Quincy Jones, museum director and curator Thelma Golden, playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith, chef and humanitarian José Andrés, Oscar-winning production designer Adam Stockhausen, president of Jujamcyn Theaters Jordan Roth, and Tony Award-winning designers Peggy Eisenhauer and Natasha Katz.

Drama is Illustrated with more than 300 striking images. Each project and concept includes insightful texts, quotes by Rockwell himself, and photographs and hand-drawn sketches. This approach results in an expressive flow of ideas and visuals that create an intuitive understanding of Rockwell's unique ethos and design process.

Projects in the book include set designs for productions of Kinky Boots, The Normal Heart, and A Midsummer Night's Dream; Moxy East Village; the flagship Nobu Downtown in New York; exhibition design for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta; and the New York City arts center The Shed designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Lead Architect and Rockwell Group, Collaborating Architect.

Bruce Mau, author of the recent Phaidon title MC24 (2020), helped shape Drama in his signature bold and eye-catching style. Sam Lubell, author of ten books on architecture including Phaidon's Life Meets Art (2020), edited the book.

As its striking blue, curtain-like cover suggests, Drama embodies the excitement and anticipation of the theater. It is both a definitive collection of Rockwell Group's works and a compelling manifesto for multi-disciplinary collaboration. It distils the magic inherent in both theater and architecture and encourages us to look at creativity in a more personal, human-centered way.


David Rockwell, FAIA, is the founder and President of Rockwell Group, an acclaimed archi­tecture, planning, and design firm with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Madrid, specializing in cultural, hospitality, educational, transportation, theater, and scenic design. Honors include a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design for She Loves Me, the AIANY President's Award, the National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Pratt Legends Award, and the Presidential Design Award.

Bruce Mau is chief design officer of Freeman, one of the world's largest brand-experience companies, and co-founder/CEO of Massive Change Network (MCN), a Chicago-based global design consultancy. Mau has been a visiting scholar at institutions globally, and lectures widely. He became an international figure with the publication of landmark volume S,M,L,XL and authored Life Style, Spectacle and Massive Change, also from Phaidon.

Sam Lubell has written ten books about architecture, including several for Phaidon and Monacelli.

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