Principal Designer, James Clotfelter Lighting Design

Co-Founder, Studio C Projects


James Clotfelter is committed to the creation of collaborative and socially conscious work for the built environment, live performance, and public space. Working broadly as a designer with a specialization in light, James works to articulate design sensibilities that nurture a shared experience, inspire thoughtfulness and curiosity, and awaken us to our surroundings. With over twenty years of design experience, James strives to situate design as an evolving narrative that is time-based, empathetic and distinctly relevant.


James is a transdisciplinary designer working across the fields of architecture, performance and design. In 2017, James established an architectural lighting practice that would commit the insights and experience gleaned from on-your-feet live performance to the rapidly growing and shifting field of architectural design. In 2018, James co-founded Studio C Projects, a performance-based, collaborative research studio in Durham, NC that investigates the intersections of movement, design, and architecture that inform our shared experience.


James has a MFA Double Major in Transdisciplinary Design and Lighting Design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. His graduate thesis, Engaging Public Light, investigated participatory, community-engaged activities that provoke dialogue about and within public space to better inform socially conscious design strategies. This work was awarded the Thesis Prize by the Illumination Engineering Society New York City chapter for its commitment to socially engaged design research. He maintains academic pursuits teaching design at the graduate level and leading workshops that focus on movement, design and creative team management for institutions such as Parsons School of Design, Duke University and the Wharton School of Business.


His extensive work in live performance has been presented throughout the US and internationally in a myriad of venues ranging from Lincoln Center and the Cairo Opera House to an abandoned Rite Aid and the rural Pennsylvania forest. He has developed collaborative visual designs with established musicians and composers including Pete Wyer, Eighth Blackbird, Prism Quartet and Spektral Quartet and has realized custom installations for retail companies such as Muji, Pas de Calais and Eddie Bauer. From 2007 – 2012, James was an Artistic Associate with the Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia where he designed several significant productions including the 2009 OBIE Award-winning Chekhov Lizzardbrain. In 2018, James designed the lighting for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s first full-evening length ballet, Lazarus, by acclaimed hip-hop choreographer, Rennie Harris.


Beyond his independent practice, James regularly collaborates with Derek Porter Studio and previously worked with the lighting group at Buro Happold Engineering from 2015-2020. Through these offices, he has worked in close collaboration with architects such as Snøhetta, Machado Silvetti, Fentress Architects, Gould Evans, Jeffrey Beers International and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and, local to the Triangle, with Louis Cherry Architecture, Ellen Cassilly Architect and Surface678. James has managed projects of varying sizes and typologies and brings his passion for performance and placemaking throughout all phases of design development and construction. James is a member of the Illumination Engineering Society of North America.