Founding Principal


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.

Ms. Cooley has been active in the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America), NY Section for many years, formerly as board member and member of the President’s Advisory Council. Through that organization, she co-curated an exhibit of the historical work of lighting pioneer, Richard Kelly, which toured several venues including the AIA Center for Architecture, NYC and Yale Art & Architecture Gallery, New Haven.

Additionally, Ms. Cooley has been on the faculty of Parsons 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, and presentations at the New York School of Interior Design, for the NYC Chapter of the ASID, and at the Green Buildings NY.