From her involvement in photography and its dependence on light as a medium, Ms. Cooley’s interest in lighting design for architecture and the environment emerged.
Soon after her 1984 graduation from Yale Graduate School of Art, from which she earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography, she began working with Light & Space Associates, Ltd. As Senior Designer there, she participated in a number of award-winning projects, including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Renovation and Expansion that won a 1993 Citation for lighting design from the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD).
In November 1991, she began Renée Cooley Lighting Design. Emily Monato joined her in 1992, became partner in 1993, and in January 2000, the firm became Cooley Monato Studio. Under her design direction, the firm received the Lumen Citation for the Norton Residence in 2000, and in 2001, together with Emily Monato, the prestigious Lumen Feltman Award for Bergdorf Goodman, Plaza Level. More recently, The Virtual Light Loft, a residential project, received a 2009 IESNA Illumination Award of Merit, the Madison Avenue flagship for the jeweler, David Yurman, was awarded a 2010 GE Award of Excellence, Mall of America, South Boulevard Renovation received a 2011 Lumen Citation and Mall of America, East Boulevard received a 2013 Lumen Award of Excellence.
Ms. Cooley was active in the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America), NY Section for many years. On the national level, she was a member of the IESNA’s Committee on Lighting for Videoconferencing and Multi-Media Presentations that developed and published a new design guideline. Other affiliations include the DLF (Designers Lighting Forum) and the IALD, in which she holds professional, voting member status.
Additionally, Ms. Cooley has been on the faculty of Parson’s School of Design, where she taught studio courses in the Graduate Lighting Design Program and at FIT and Pratt Institute where she taught lighting design in the Interior Design Departments. She maintains an active speaking schedule including a number of seminars at the industry’s annual tradeshow, Lightfair International.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from the University of Wisconsin -Madison, Ms. Monato came to New York City in 1989 as an International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) intern. She joined Renée Cooley Lighting Design in 1992 and in 1993 became a principal in that firm, now called Cooley Monato Studio (CoMoS). She is primarily responsible for project design/management & marketing.
CoMoS’s philosophy of integrating light within architectural elements can be seen in Ms. Monato’s design direction for projects both large and small. In 1996 the firm’s projects began to gain industry recognition with an IESNY Lumen Feltman Award for Takashimaya Cosmetics. Similar recognition followed with Graves 601 (formerly known as the Le Meridien Hotel – Minneapolis) and Amore Pacific – NYC, both honored with 2004 IESNY Lumen Awards of Excellence and both representing boutique-based lighting solutions. Various designs for Marc Jacobs, Gucci, and Barneys New York. showcase this approach to detail integration on national and worldwide scales.
Outside of project-related activity, Ms. Monato is a member of the IALD, the Designers Lighting Forum, and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. Additionally, she has been on the faculty at the New York School of Interior Design and Parsons School of Design-Graduate Lighting Design Program, as well as a lecturer and organizer for local and national conferences and seminars on lighting.
In addition to being one of the two principal designers within the Studio, Ms. Monato organizes training seminars for corporate facilities’ departments on lighting design basics and maintenance, and lectures within both the academic and industry venues.