While the name sounds very constrained, architectural lighting design is one of the most industry-spanning disciplines within architecture and interior design. The skills are sought after and the challenges are complex.

Those are just a few reasons these four designers earned a Master of Professional Studies in Lighting Design from the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). The one-year program provided a gateway to their individual career paths in lighting design. Here, each designer shares a favorite post-graduation project.

Amy Nelson ’16, Lighting Designer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The project: “Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms,” a 2017 Met Breuer exhibition curated by Iria Candela in collaboration with Projeto Lygia Pape

Ttéia (1976-2004) © Projeto Lygia Pape.
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth Ttéia (1976-2004) © Projeto Lygia Pape.

The artist’s work is varied in terms of medium, from video to metal sculpture, and beyond, explains Nelson. “This made it challenging to apply various lighting techniques throughout, to meet the lender and conservation requirements, while maintaining a cohesive look.” Nelson was thrilled with the overall show, but she’s especially proud of an installation piece called Ttéia. “The viewer entered a black box where shafts of light, or gold thread, flooded in from the Breuer’s grid ceiling. The challenge was in finding the correct angles to have the light reflect on the thread just right. It was a beautiful success.”

On NYSID: “I gained the confidence to better understand, discuss, illustrate, and problem solve in the field of lighting design.”

Matthew McCarthy ’15, Senior Lighting Designer, MRD Lighting
The project: Royal Caribbean’s Edge, a state-of-the-art $1 billion cruise ship

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises Inc.
Matthew McCarthy Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises Inc.

“The cruise industry is heavily regulated and lighting must abide by rules for IP protection, light levels, and fixture stability,” McCarthy explains. Another big challenge on ships are the low ceilings and how to prevent it from feeling claustrophobic, he adds. His team overcame this in part through the use of cove lighting and elaborate chandeliers with lots of sparkle. “Royal Caribbean is pleased with the results and we’re now working on the next two ships.”

On NYSID: “NYSID changed the course of my career and provided me with an outstanding network of contacts.”

Minh Lai ’17, Lighting Designer, Brandston Partnership Inc.
The project: The renovation of Wellesley College’s Science Center

Due to the exposed ceiling with visible ductwork and pipes, this project required a lot of coordination to locate lighting fixtures and make sure they weren’t in conflict with other elements. “Bidirectional pendants were used throughout the building to provide downlight for functional purpose and uplight to illuminate the ductwork,” Lai says. The improved lighting, she adds, transformed the interior into a more inspiring space for students.

On NYSID: “The program prepared me with essential skills to start out smoothly during the early days of my career as a lighting designer.”

Brigid Hardiman ’19, Lighting Designer, Lightcraft
The project: Corporate tenant amenity spaces in Norwalk, Conn., including reception, multipurpose conference area, fitness center, and more

Hardiman provided initial design support while she was still at NYSID, and eventually took over the contract administration. “This was my first real opportunity to interface directly with the architect to coordinate details and make educated decisions. It was also my first opportunity to see a lighting reflected ceiling plan come to life. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work on such a fun project.”

On NYSID: “It wasn’t until I got to NYSID that I learned about using light as a medium for expression, or how to graphically communicate ideas about light.”

Are you interested in specializing in lighting design?

NYSID’s program offers evening classes, all taught by working professionals. For you, that means instant connections and current, relevant knowledge.

Learn more about NYSID’s MPS-L degree.