Earlier this summer, CalArtians Benjamin Wilson (Theater MFA 19), Pei-Yu Lai (Theater MFA 19) and Bri Pattillo (Theater MFA 19) were among the winners of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Los Angeles 2019 Russell Cole Memorial Lighting Design Competition. The competition was established to honor Russell Cole, founder of Cole Lighting and advocate of the IES, an international organization committed to promoting education and safe lighting practices.
For the past 10 years, the IESLA Russell Cole Memorial Lighting Design Competition has recognized Southern California students who exhibit an understanding of, and then apply, architectural lighting practices, awarding more than $120,000 to more than 30 students. The 2019 competition featured a new format, including an advanced and conceptual category. This year’s participants were instructed to devise a lighting design for a modern Los Angeles sushi restaurant.
Wilson won the top prize in the advanced category for his project Gyre. His winning entry featured colorful, dynamic spotlit billboards on the restaurant’s exterior, and warm ambient lighting in the interior. In addition to lighting design for architecture, Wilson has also produced scenic design for numerous live performances, including dance-theater performance Solidus, choreographed by Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance faculty Julie Bour.
Lai was named the first-runner up in the advanced category for her project Ginsyu. Her submission exhibits a lighting scheme designed to harmonize with raw concrete surfaces, and features an array of linear lighting techniques in and around the restaurant. Lai’s other lighting design works include Augmented Reality (AR) installation Islands/Soem (
Pattillo was the recipient of the conceptual category’s top prize for her project Hashi. Her lighting design evokes an atmosphere with an “intimate, soft, warm glow,” and her custom restaurant fixtures include paper fans with frosted acrylic tubes and a nine foot-long golden carp. Patillo’s lighting credits extend to Fatwa! The Musical, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and various Center for New Performance (CNP) productions, including Try/Step/Trip and Ru
The students were mentored by School of Theater faculty member Christopher Kuhl, a renowned lighting, installation and scenic designer whose recent works include Dreams: Schubert & Beckett (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Halfway to Dawn (David Rousseve /Reality, REDCAT, BAM) and Home (BAM, Hong Kong Festival, New Zealand Festival). Kuhl is the recipient of two LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, two Bessie Awards, and Sherwood, Drammy and Horton Awards.
Check out a slideshow of all the winning competition entries on the IESLA competition website.