July 2019

Amber Moriarty, MIES
Principal, Studio Director
Kugler Ning Lighting

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
When I entered college in 2001, I attended Ithaca for vocal performance, but quickly decided the life of a professional singer was not for me. As I switched majors from music to interior design, I transferred closer to home to Cazenovia College in upstate New York. Their interior design department was run by Professor Josef Ritter, who had a minor obsession with everything related to light. His love for lighting was infectious, and I caught it. After all, how were we to design interesting spaces without an understanding of this vital piece of the puzzle? Lighting courses were mandatory in sophomore and junior years, where we learned about RCPs, different light sources, room cavity ratios, center beam candlepower, color rendering, mortality curves, computer-based photometric calculations, writing lighting specifications … the list goes on, and it was intense! While most of my classmates were sleeping, failing, and/or complaining that it wasn’t “interior design,” I was falling in love. It was a component of design that I had never thought about nor considered before taking these classes. I found it fascinating. The notion of pairing design with math (another one of my favorite subjects) was a match made in heaven. I graduated with a B.F.A. in interior design in 2006. When I began applying for jobs in my senior year of college, almost all applications were sent to lighting design firms in New York City. I was offered a position at Kugler Ning Lighting (known as Kugler Associates at the time), and the rest is history. That was over 13 years ago, and I have to thank Jerry Kugler and Jackson Ning, MIES, who have mentored me throughout my entire career.

When I changed my studies to interior design, I continued singing in community choirs. After moving to NYC, I even got to sing with a choir at Carnegie Hall! Ironically, as a lighting professional, one of my first projects at Kugler Ning was to design the lighting for their masterplan renovation. In 2015, I received my first Lumen Award for the lighting of the Carnegie Hall Facade. This, by far, was my best performance. This year, I was named to the 40 Under 40 Class of 2019, something I’m very proud of.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
Professor Ritter was, and I suspect still is, an active IES member. He encouraged us to all become IES student members. Sage advice, but I didn’t join! I attended my first Lumen Awards Gala about a month after starting at KNL. Wow! It was an incredible party and exposure to the amazing projects that lighting designers in NYC were working on. After that, I began attending some of the IESNYC events and eventually became a member.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
I enjoy participating in IESNYC programs and events, and I volunteer as a member from time to time. At the national level, I was an IES Award judge a few years ago. Locally, I recently participated in a panel discussion — Lighting Landmarks — hosted by the IESNYC Lighting Council and the AIANY Building Codes and Historic Buildings committees. I currently split my time between co-managing KNL with Jackson Ning, and spending time with my children. At Kugler Ning, we encourage our designers to attend IESNYC programs, and I will always say yes to the IESNYC when asked.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
Location, location, location! There is no better place to learn about and design lighting than in NYC. The talent here is incredible, and so are the projects. The IESNYC brings us all together for networking events and provides amazing opportunities for our young industry professionals to learn and grow.