Stage designer Jens Kilian was born in Dresden. After an internship in film production design at the DEFA Studio for feature films in Potsdam-Babelsberg, he studied set and costume design at the Weissensee Art College in Berlin, followed by a year working as a set designer at DEFA. From 1986 to 1990 he was a set design assistant at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and from 1990 to 1992 he was head of decor at the city theatres in Cologne. Since 1987 he has worked as a freelance set and costume designer for opera, musicals, theatre and dance and has worked at numerous important theatres and festivals in Europe and Japan.
Jens Kilian has enjoyed a continuous working relationship with directors such as Dieter Wedel, Gil Mehmert (Die Fledermaus, Les Misérables, Das Wunder von Bern), Joachim Schlömer (including Senza fine at the 2002 Salzburg Festival), Dimiter Gotscheff (Miss Julie), Christof Nel (including Salome, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, Der Freischütz), Jossi Wieler (Alkestis, Edison Denisov’s L’Écume des jours), Martin Kušej (La clemenza di Tito at the 2003 Salzburg Festival), Thirza Bruncken (Elfriede Jelinek’s Stecken, Stab und Stangl), Johan Simons (Elementarteilchen), Karin Henkel (The Rats) and Vera Nemirova (including Der Ring des Nibelungen in Frankfurt from 2010 to 2012, Lohengrin, Vasco da Gama, La traviata, The Makropulos Case).