Born in Budapest in 1951, István Szlávik pursued his studies in the set and costume design department at the Leningrad Academy of Theatre, Music and Cinema, where he graduated in 1976. He started work as a designer at the National Theatre in 1974. He worked at Kecskemét's Katona József Theatre between 1977 and 1979, and in Szolnok's Szigligeti Theatre from 1979 to 1981. He then did design work in Miskolc from 1981 to 1983 before becoming the József Attila Theatre's designer from 1983 to 1992. Since 2000, he has worked at the Hungarian Theatre of Pest. His design work is marked by highly expressive models (three-dimensional initial designs), constructive development of spaces, painstaking design of lighting effects and a confident style. He has taken part in exhibitions both in Hungary and abroad. He received the Theatre Critics' Award in 1983, the Mari Jászai Award in 1990, and the Phoenix Award on several occasions. He previously designed the sets for the Opera House's productions of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera (1986), Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (1995) and Puccini's Manon Lescaut (2001).