Based in London and having moved from her native Denmark to develop her artistic career, Refsing was appointed to be the stage director for Blas Canto’s ‘Universo’ at Eurovision 2020
Nicoline Refsing has a long prolific career when it comes to artistic design in the audiovisual field. Under her self-established company Rockart Design, This Dane, based in London, has worked for many international and popular artists like Pink, One Direction, ‘The X Factor’ most successful contestant ever, Leona Lewis, and even no other than Queen Elizabeth! It is no surprise that she describes it as a “lifetime” dream. “I was introduced to Production Design very early in my career and I completely got it, that is how I wanted to communicate and tell a story in space“, she points out. Everything started off when she graduated after carrying out this task in a live concert in Denmark.
During these coronavirus times and given the pandemic we are all going through, we wanted to give voice to one of the most important creators at Eurovision in recent years. There is no need to be a singer to have a say in the contest and, by quoting this, she becomes the best example. Having been appointed as the artistic and creative director for Eurovision 2014 in Denmark and designed the stagings for Aminata, Dami Im, Timebelle and Brendan Murray, Refsing was subsequently approached by Spanish broadcaster RTVE to make up Melani Garcia‘s ‘Marte‘ stage performance at Junior Eurovision 2019 in Poland. Huge hopes surrounded the entry, which eventually finished 3rd, keeping Spain’s amazing path through the contest. As a result, the Spanish delegation kept her name in mind for the senior Eurovision.
A few days after Blas Canto’s was internally chosen to represent Spain, the team started to consider different scenarios for the staging of ‘Universo‘, as soon after she received an important call that required her services in Rotterdam for the task she accomplished in Gliwice. Nothing could eventually materialize due to the disease risk, as the contest was finally canceled, as well as every massive music event in the world. In spite of what meant to be a drama for music lovers in Europe, Nicoline sat down to tell us what she wanted to offer and which kind of story. “It was very technical challenging, way more than everything I have created before and ambitious“, she revealed in May.
Europe could not come up with a winning some this time, not even with a competition with a proper stage to show the audience what each country had in its pocket. Nicoline is keeping very much of the thing behind. Could she come back in 2021? It most likely seems so.
“All the pieces came together”
In the meantime, Refsing is ready to kick off the summer season and prepare some projects and conferences to tell professionals about her career. Going all the back to her beginning, the Dane tell us that it had a turning point when she thought she “would come to heaven” by having witnessed one of The Rolling Stones concerts at Parken, the stadium which served as a venue for Eurovision 2001. She ended up working for the person who had actually designed the lightning for the show. To expand herself and make her background wider, increasing her growing chances in this particular bubble, she moved to the UK.
London was the destination. She truly finds inner peace by looking through the window at her office. She is not only doing the interview from her working space at home but also using that view to the river as one of the most inspiring elements when creating. That inspiration is a mere reflection of the main elements which are crucial for Refsing to start thinking of how a story could be delivered to a big audience. “The artist, the music and the lyrics“, she adds as she draws sort a triangle that ensembles her own model of representation of space in music design. Nevertheless, the “intuition” is something she is used to handling at the time of facing a project, but it is that conjunction that evokes “a unique expression for everything“. “If I feel something very strong, other people will respond in the same way“, she believes.
Flying on the wings of Eurovision
The Eurovision Song Contest is much of a demanding event in this term, as it is considered the largest music broadcast in the world and a space where messages have gone way beyond the limits of music. “There are a lot of technical details we have to make it work“, she explains. During last year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Nicoline had designed a performance that people could relate to, by listening to the song. ‘Marte’ spoke about massive plastics use and people’s lack of awareness. She ended up hanging two fishnets from the ceiling at the venue. It was not easy as there are only 30 seconds between each song to switch the set for every delegation.
Following this line, she also believes that the contest has changed so much in the past few years, making the experience more challenging for every country. Either from nothing or already having a background from a national final, a staging at Eurovision needs to appeal the audience on an “international scale“ and become attractive by the feature of being “live“. “What works in Scandinavia or Eastern Europe, may not work in any other regions“, she considers.
There is still one episode of the interview to go, which will see the light in the upcoming weeks, but just to tease you a little bit more on how Nicoline connected to the contest and how it ended up being the artistic director at Eurovision 2014 in Copenhagen, she went on to add that she loved the contest as a child, falling in love with “the glitter” and recalling “vividly” the Danish victory at Eurovision 2000 in Stockholm.