Matthew McCarthy is a Lighting Designer at Michael Riotto Design (MRD); a design-build firm located in Long Island City specializing in the hospitality industry. His design projects include hotels, restaurants, and cruise ships. He has over 25 years of experience designing lighting for theatrical productions throughout the United States for which he has received numerous awards. His designs for the critically acclaimed performance art company, Blue Man Group have been seen by audiences in New York, Boston, and Chicago for over 20 years. He has served as a consultant to the Research & Development department at Altman Stage Lighting. In addition to earning a BFA from Ithaca College and an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he returned to school in 2015 and earned a Master of Professional Studies degree in lighting design from NYSID. He has worked in the design offices of Leni Schwendinger Light Projects Ltd and Domingo Gonzalez Associates.
Where are you now and what kind of work/projects are you currently working on?
I am a Lighting Designer at Michael Riotto Design in Long Island City. I am currently working on several small hotels. We do everything from the lobby, restaurants, restrooms, guest rooms to corridors, but no back of house. The firm has a custom fixture division which sometimes makes fixtures for the projects, or for other design firms. Also we are starting to do historic building facades, specializing in civic structures.
How did NYSID prepare you for where you are today?
NYSID prepared me by providing a broad introduction to the industry and teaching many of the basic skills that I use every day. Learning basic rendering techniques, drafting conventions, calculations and design process, gave me the foundation I needed to work for a large firm like DGA. Also having the opportunity to meet so many different industry people through the various classes was very valuable. I cross paths with people I met at NYSID frequently.
What career advice do you have for current students? What is critical for the future professional?
The advice I would offer a current student in the MPS-L program is to be patient. To understand that you cannot possibly learn it all in one year and that architectural lighting design takes a long time to master. To remember to separate the two distinct parts of the design process; the art of figuring out how to use light in a given space for a particular function to accomplish a particular goal versus all of the technical calculations and paperwork that support the design.
I believe it is critical for the future professional to stay informed about the technological advancements that are happening all of the time. To be aware of the state of the art and how to use it. While at the same time remembering that the most important part of the design is the user, and how they as human beings experience a space.
Who influenced your studies at NYSID?
I'm afraid I can't list all of the faculty and guest speakers I met during the program, but they were all great. From the first Continuing Education classes in 2014 until graduation from the MPS-L program, each of my instructors were extremely helpful to me in making the transition from theatre to architecture.