November 2017

Bonny Ann Whitehouse, LC, IALDA, MIES 
Director of Lighting Design
Light Plan Design

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
I started in high school in the theatre  department as the lighting designer. I fell in love with lighting. I spent the rest of my school career, all the way through an MFA studying lighting. I attended Hunter College, earning a BS in theatrical design, scenery and lighting. Then I then attended the Art Students League full time for a year to work on my painting and sketching skills, and later went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts for theatrical lighting and scenery design, earning an MFA. I was lucky — in the right place at the right time. I got to work with many lighting designers, industrial designers, and theatrical designers. I worked with Imero Fiorentino as a theatre consultant. I got to design theatres and learned many architectural skills in the process. In the late 1990s, I worked at an engineering firm as a lighting designer, and got to work designing lighting for major sports facilities. It was a fun job with lots of travel around the US. In 2003, I started Whitehouse Lighting Design, LLC, and worked for myself for about 13 years. While at WLD I received three IES awards and one GSA On the Boards award. When the “not fun” part of the job — bookkeeping, bill collecting, etc. — started to get boring, I decided to join Light Plan Design as their director of lighting design to help build up their department.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
I started small, just getting my feet wet, with fundraising for the Lumen Gala when Phil Cialdella was president (1999/00–2000/01). I started the position of IESNYC AIA liaison and really enjoyed working closely with the AIANY Chapter. I then worked on the education committee, and Randy Sabedra and I served as co-chairs. When he moved up to vice president of the Section, I became committee chair, and when Randy became president (2005/06–2006/07), I became his vice president. I succeeded him to become the 87th president of the IESNYC (2007/08–2008/09), and I am proud of my work with the history committee. During my term, the committee started to interview major senior lighting designers. I also started the tradition of having a holiday party. My objective was to encourage people to get more involved with the Section.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
Educating people about the importance of good lighting. I see myself spreading the word about the IESNYC and the many great things that we, as a group, can accomplish. I also see myself helping where needed and being part of a great team of people.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
The overall joy you feel when you go to an event — especially the energy. The passion each person has about lighting. Recently I participated as an artist in Moonlighting 3, an event which I think is simply brilliant, since many lighting designers come from other artistic fields. Moonlighting, which is a co-production of the IESNYC, IALD NY and DLFNY, gives us a chance to show our first love, the love that led us to lighting.