Alumni Profile: Suzan Tillotson

Lighting Designer
Tillotson Design Associates
New York, NY

Provide an educational background including professional experience.

Bachelor of Art in Interior Design from LSU. (1981)
I worked for Levy-Kramer Associates, a thirty-five person MEP firm, where I was head of the lighting department.
Upon relocating to New York City, I acquired additional experience at Flack + Kurtz Engineers and H. M. Brandston Partners. (1986)

Joined Jerry Kugler Associates. (1988) After becoming a principal in 1993, I directed all phases of design for a wide variety of domestic and overseas projects including corpo- rate headquarters, retail projects, galleries, airports, residences and educational facilities. I was at Kugler Tillotson Associates for 16 years.

Founded Tillotson Design Associates. (2004)

Why did you choose LSU for your education?

When I was in high school, it never occurred to me to attend a college out of state. I was excited to go to LSU, and stay near my family and friends. The architecture and interior design programs were well respected. It also has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.

How did your LSU degree help to prepare you for your profession?

LSU prepared me so well by teaching the practical tools, not just theory. But we were also encouraged to think outside of the box – and reminded that we might not have many op- portunities to do so in the “real” world.

My professors were all wonderful – including Dean Jerry Nielson. I have to credit Professor Daugherty for my chosen career. She set very high standards for us and instilled so much self-confidence. She was also instrumental in getting our department recognized nationally. Howard Brandston and James Nuckolls spoke at our Career Fair. Brandston was so passionate about lighting design. He convinced me that I wanted to become a lighting designer.

What current or past research and projects/exhibitions have you done?

New Museum of Contemporary Art – New York, NY (Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa SANNA Ltd./Gensler)
Norwich University Student Center (Perry Dean Rogers & Part- ners:Architects)
AIG Tower – Hong Kong (Skidmore Owings & Merrill)
Seattle Public Library – Seattle, WA (Rem Koolhaas – OMA/LMN Architects)
Rubin Museum of Art – New York, NY (Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners/Imrey Culbert)
BSTP Financial Center (Lot 21) – Beijing, China (Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates)
PRADA Store – Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, CA
Rem Koolhaas – OMA/Brand + Allen Architects
Beijing Huamao Center – Bejing, China
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
U J A – Federation of New York (Swanke Hayden Connell Architects)
Wyly Theatre – Dallas Center of the Performing Arts – Dallas, TX (OMA / Kendall Heaton Associates)
Diane Von Furstenburg Showroom, New York, NY (Work Architecture Company).

Please list any awards or special recognition that you have received.

I have received numerous awards for my lighting design work, and our work has been featured in many national and international publications.
I am a corporate member of the IALD and have been an IES member for 23 years and past president of the Southwest Louisiana Section.
I have served as an awards judge for the New York IES Lumens and the IALD.
I have taught the New York IES Lighting Course, numerous lighting design and rendering workshops, and guest lectured at LSU, Rutgers, and Cornell University.
City Lights Competition New York City – Imrey Culbert Architects- One of three inter- national finalists.
New Jersey 911 Memorial Competition – CR Studio Architects -One of six finalists.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to continue to provide the best lighting design service possible for my clients. I do not necessarily have any aspirations to have a larger company- we currently have seven employees. There can come a point when the company becomes so large the primary goal becomes profitability just to sustain it, instead of doing the best possible design work. My goal is to always be proud of our work. It is a difficult balance to maintain. But I think if one works hard, stays focused and passionate, it is possible to be successful.