Michael Simon came to the world of theatre via the visual arts. In 1978 he started studying set design under Jürgen Rose in Stuttgart. During this time he worked with the performance group Famili (together with Achim Kubinski). Various performances with the group took him to Stuttgart, Cologne, Washington and New York.
He ended his studies in 1981 and moved to New York for a year. Between 1982 and 1990 he worked as a set designer for the American choreographer William Forsythe at the Frankfurt ballet and for theatre productions, including theatres in Dusseldorf, Freiburg, Darmstadt, Vienna, Hamburg and Berlin.
Simon started creating stage sets for opera in Amsterdam in 1989 for the directors Pierre Audi and Peter Greenaway. Since 1988 he has been working continuously with the choreographer Jiří Kylián, and since 2006 every now and then with Richard Wherlock at Ballet Basel. He made his first forays as a director during joint projects with the composer Heiner Goebbels in the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt. This was rapidly followed by his first opera productions in Basel, Nuremberg and Darmstadt. In 1995 he was invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen with his theatre production ‘The Black Rider’. The newspaper ‘Theater heute’ voted him up-and-coming director of the year.
In 1996/97 he was briefly employed at the Schaubühne on Lehniner Platz in Berlin. Since then he has been working as a freelance director and set designer. Between 1998 and 2004 he was professor for scenography at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. Since 2008 he has run the in-depth stage-set design course, MA in Theatre, at the Hochschule für Künste in Zurich.