Luminaries: 8 of the World’s Top Lighting Design Firms

When it comes to lighting design, these industry leaders shine bright.

Samantha Frew Samantha Frew

The votes are in, and Architizer is thrilled to unveil the winners of the A+Product Awards! Register for Architizer's A+Product Awards Newsletter to receive future program updates.

Lighting is often the unsung hero on many projects, whether artificial or natural; light is a subtle yet crucial element that transforms spaces from structures to experiences. But with many firms worldwide unveiling astonishing lighting design projects, who truly shines brightest?

These eight firms are the architects of ambiance and the maestros of mood. With each creative practice, understanding that lighting is not simply the task of illuminating a space; it is an art form dedicated to defining and showcasing the unique character of a building. To be an expert in lighting design, you must be fluent in the nuanced language of lumens, color temperatures, and glare indices but also excel in the intangibles—how to evoke an atmosphere, accentuate form, and manufacture flow within and without a structure. It is a complex undertaking that can yield breathtaking results.

So, as you tackle your next architectural endeavor, be inspired by these incredible lighting design firms that are setting the industry standard and taking lighting to the next level.

L’Observatoire International

Schwarzman Center Yale University, project by RAMSA and lighting by L’Observatoire International, New Haven, Connecticut

Founded in 1993 by Hervé Descottes, L’Observatoire International is more than just your average lighting design firm; it is a practice that intimately understands and values the relationship between light and architecture. With extensive experience crafting lighting designs for a diverse array of projects ranging from art institutions to public spaces to luxury properties, the renowned company has mastered the art of highlighting architectural elements and transforming spaces through the careful use of light. Their exceptional skill in leveraging the interplay between light and material enables them to create visually striking compositions that invite emotional responses and leave a lasting impact on viewers.

L’Observatoire’s design philosophy is rooted in the functional aspect of lighting design while also extending beyond it. They seek to implement light as a spatial hierarchy tool that demarcates areas of movement and rest throughout a space. L’Observatoire’s holistic design approach is evident throughout the entire process, starting with rigorous Schematic Design analysis and continuing until project delivery, always with the goal of creating stunning and efficient designs that showcase their talent for innovation.

TM Light

Orange County Museum of Art by Thom Mayne & Morphosis, Lighting by TM Light, Costa Mesa, CA, United States. Photograph by Mike Kelley

TM Light is a lighting design studio founded in New York by Jeff Taylor and B. Alex Miller. The partners met while completing their graduate studies at MIT and decided to collaborate on a lighting design project, which eventually led to the founding of their studio. The successful team has a positive reputation throughout the industry and has collaborated extensively with many of the most famous brands in the world, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior and Alexander Wang.

The lighting design philosophies of TM Light are based on building collaborative relationships with clients and designers emphasizing the value of development in direct, meaningful collaboration. The studio believes that lighting cannot be treated as a secondary layer of systems that attaches to the architecture, but instead, it should be an intrinsic part of the experience of space, material and brand. TM Light sees lighting as part of the design DNA of the architecture itself.

HLB Lighting Design

HLB is a lighting design firm with over 50 years of experience in the industry. They are recognized for their innovative, sustainable and comprehensive lighting design services that have played a part in revolutionizing the industry. HLB operates from seven offices across the United States, including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Denver and Austin.

The firm has been at the forefront of lighting design, operating in various sectors, including hospitality, healthcare, education and infrastructure. Their unwavering passion for light and architecture, coalesced with a dedication to interaction and partnership, have produced positive, enriching experiences in the built environment. HLB’s approach to lighting design is rooted in a product development process that includes extensive research, concept development, and launch. The impressive practice remains at the forefront of new technologies and trends by gathering and analyzing relevant information to guide their designs and positively impact clients, the industry, and the marketplace. The firm’s commitment to global stewardship and sustainability, coupled with their pursuit of the best solution, has propelled them as a leader in the field.

Tillotson Design Associates

Tillotson Design Associates is a New York City-based lighting design consultancy founded in 2004. The firm primarily focuses on providing exceptional and innovative lighting design services by collaborating with developers, architects and interior designers throughout the world.

Tillotson Design Associates is led by Suzan Tillotson, a light artist and designer and a diverse team with varied and extensive experiences, including architecture, interior design, and theater design. They are true industry experts with an award-winning portfolio, including projects for corporate headquarters, universities, hotels, libraries, museums, parks, performance halls, residences, restaurant, and retail establishments. The firm’s commitment to design excellence, meticulous attention to detail and heavy principal involvement from concept to final focusing have been crucial to its success.

Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design

Hancher Auditorium, University of Iowa by Pelli Clarke Pelli and OPN Architects, Lighting by Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, Iowa City, IA, United States. Photograph by Jeff Goldberg

Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design (CBBLD) is a New York City-based lighting design firm dedicated to enhancing the grace, utility, and comfort of architectural spaces through the use of light. Founded in 1985 by Francesca Bettridge and Stephen Bernstein, along with the late Carroll Cline, CBBLD has completed a varied array of projects across all industries. The unique firm is a certified Woman-owned Business Enterprise and has earned over 100 lighting awards.

CBBLD is known for its advanced daylighting capabilities and commitment to sustainable design. The firm utilizes mock-ups, renderings, and three-dimensional computer visualizations to illustrate lighting design concepts for architects and clients. With a comprehensive suite of skills, CBBLD’s designers can represent spaces and lighting effects, photometric calculations, and energy management analysis to tailor and perfect their lighting solutions.

PLANLUX Lighting Design

Dogus Technology Center by ERA Architects, Lighting by PLANLUX Lighting Design, Istanbul, Turkey. Photograph by Cemal Emden

PLANLUX is an independent architectural lighting design studio that offers a variety of services, including architectural lighting design, light identity design development, luminaire design, and natural light studies. They have completed projects in various scopes and scales, aiming for a combination of creativity, efficiency, and expertise. They prioritize providing an outstanding lighting design project experience for their clients and their teams by simplifying their processes and focusing on flexible project management to prevent as many risks as possible.

PLANLUX believes light is an indispensable part of our built environment, not an insertion. They combine their knowledge of up-to-date lighting design techniques with streamlined project management to create aesthetic, effective, and sustainable architectural lighting design solutions.

Fisher Marantz Stone

Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice by Gensler, Lighting by Fisher Marantz Stone, New York, NY, United States. Photograph provided by Fisher Marantz Stone

Fisher Marantz Stone is a lighting design firm that has been dedicated to creating beautiful and innovative lighting solutions for over 50 years. They aim to understand architectural design and enhance the communication of design through environmentally and economically conscious lighting solutions, thereby achieving a seamless integration of light and space. Their use of cutting-edge technology allows them to create sustainable and manageable solutions that function within each environment while also being visually stunning.

With a wealth of experience, Fisher Marantz Stone has established itself as a leader in the field of lighting design. They recognize the importance of lighting in creating the perfect atmosphere and use the latest technological advancements to achieve visually captivating and sustainable results. The firm has a legacy of enduring excellence.


BC ACTION DEVELOPMENT by UNK, Lighting by QPRO, Moskva, Russia. Photograph by Marika Volkova

QPRO is a creative engineering company known for its exceptional lighting and automation solutions. Founded in 2012, QPRO boast a successful track record of 100+ completed projects in various locations. QPRO’s expertise lies in their distinctive approach to lighting design, incorporating aesthetics, spatial environments, and low-current systems with cutting-edge technology. Their creative solutions are designed to be conceptually developed, equipment designed, programmed, and installed to perfection.

What makes QPRO unique is their ability to blend engineering with the language of architecture. QPRO’s team of experts create stunning designs that are innovative and practical, successfully balancing complex installations with captivating visuals. Their technical professionals are skilled in integrating multimedia systems into lighting designs and in developing unique decorative effects and media content that can be controlled using everyday technology like a smartphone.

The votes are in, and Architizer is thrilled to unveil the winners of the A+Product Awards! Register for Architizer's A+Product Awards Newsletter to receive future program updates.

Samantha Frew Author: Samantha Frew
Sam Frew is an interior designer with ten years of experience in the high-end hospitality industry. She is one-half of Campbell | Frew Design Studio. Over the years Sam has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest hotel brands including Accor, Millennium, Ensana and Radisson.
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