Tumbling Brights


A Holiday Lighting Installation
December - February, Lincoln Square

In late September of 2020 the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District commissioned Linnaea Tillett, founder and principal of Tillett Lighting Design Associates, to create a temporary lighting installation in Dante Park, as well as on the ten Broadway medians between Columbus Circle and 70th street. The brief was to design an enchanting illumination to meet the difficult holiday season ahead. The governing principle conveyed by BID director Monica Blum was to encourage hope. Tillett’s approach to lighting, acclaimed for its lyricism and sensitivity to the emotional tone of public spaces, was a good fit. Her NYC projects include the newly opened Pier 26, the Battery Bosque and the forthcoming Morgan Library and Museum Garden. She is a frequent collaborator with public artists including Maya Lin, Kiki Smith and Arlene Shechet. 

For the Lincoln Square project, Linnaea Tillett approached her brother, Seth Tillett, a theater and augmented reality designer. Their collaboration, Light Verse, a permanent lighting installation in the plaza at 375 Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, opened in 2019. Born New Yorkers and children of the renowned New York textile designers, d.d. and Leslie Tillett, they were eager to make a contribution to the city's emotional recovery.

 tumbling lights model pic1

 tumbling lights model pic1

They decided to avoid any wrapping of trees or branches with lights, or any uplighting into the already light-polluted Manhattan skies. Populating the beautifully planted Broadway medians with illuminated figures, they thought, would bring a sense of vitality and lightness. The designers agreed that a flow uptown from Columbus Circle and downtown from 70th street would deliver a dynamic gathering of spirits to Dante Park. While best known for The Inferno, Dante’s most incandescent words are reserved for Paradise and the ceaselessly revolving lights of the heavens. Emerging from darkness into light became the leitmotif of the project.

The resulting design seeks to convey a sense of hope and resilience, but also of respect and remembrance. A procession of ethereal figures tumble down and float up Broadway wrapped in starlight; ten glittering acrobats of the spirit. These bright tributes to the gravity-defying energy of New Yorkers converge at the statue of Dante Alighieri, which in 2020 was lit with a temporary projection of stellar constellations.

In 2021, the Lincoln Square BID was able to expand the number of Tumbling Brights in the Broadway Malls as well as bring a holiday tree back to Dante Park. Click here to read about Holidays in Lincoln Square! 

 Dante Lighting

About Linnaea Tillett Lighting Design Associates

Linnaea Tillett Lighting Design Associates creates imaginative, technically innovative and ecologically-sensitive lighting programs for the landscape and built environment – public and private, intimate and urban. The firm has forged a highly acclaimed body of work by treating every design challenge as an opportunity to find the poetic in the functional, the elegant in the robust, and simplicity in technical and regulatory complexity.  Each project is grounded in a highly nuanced understanding of the perceptual, affective and symbolic dimensions of light.

The firm, a nationally certified WBE, has 35 years of experience with projects across the United States and beyond. The lighting design team leverages additional expertise in the fields of environmental psychology, landscape architecture, interior design and sculpture. Working across a range of typologies and scales, the portfolio includes urban parks, waterfronts, cultural campuses and connective corridors as well as intimate gardens, private estates, fine art collections and public art. Known for their commitment to seeing each project successfully built and maintained, the firm is a frequent collaborator with leading landscape architects, architects and public artists including Maya Lin, Toshiko Mori, Nelson Byrd Woltz, OLIN, Gustafson Guthrie Nichols and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

About Seth Tillett

Seth Tillett is an artist and theater designer, as well as a free lance art director of augmented reality environments. He has designed over a hundred stages for Opera, Theater and Ballet in Europe, for which he also created lighting and occasionally composed music. Most recently Tillett was the art director for David Bowie is, the elaborate augmented reality iteration of the acclaimed exhibition of Bowie's life and work. Tillett lives and works in NYC.


Designed by Linnaea Tillett Lighting Design Associates with Seth Tillett 

Figure fabrication by TWOSEVEN INC

Technical installation in Dante Park by IDEKO

Figure installation in the malls by City1 Maintenance

 tumbling lights model pic1