Light as an Architectural Asset with Studio Atomic

Paola Pietrantoni Studio Atomic - Photo by Sergio Neuman-Bustamante

In this edition of Love Happens’ Design Questionnaire, join us for a peek into the creative mind of Paola Pietrantoni, co-founder of Studio Atomic. A Chilean architect and lighting designer, Paola founded her firm alongside partner Gabriele Negro. The pair met while Paola was studying for her Master’s in Lighting Design & Technology in Milan and started Studio Atomic together in 2018. At Studio Atomic, it is all about the magic of light combined with a passion for Italian design tradition resulting in spaces that are crafted with intent, beautifully leverage the nature of materials, and bold and colorful accents.

Working on architectural lighting design projects for residential, hospitality, commercial, and non-profit organization spaces, Paola and the Studio Atomic team develop imaginative and adaptable environments to admire from their New York City office. Read on and be inspired!

Meet Paola Pietrantoni of Studio Atomic in the Lh Design Questionnaire

paola pietrantoni founder lighting designer nyc studio atomic
Paola Pietrantoni, Founder of Studio Atomic (Photo by Sergio Neuman-Bustamante)

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

For me, perfect happiness is all about finding mental peace and waking up surrounded by things that inspire and uplift me. As someone who works in the design world, I find that being surrounded by beautiful and inspiring objects is key to my overall happiness and well-being. Whether it’s a favorite piece of artwork or a piece of furniture that I love, seeing these objects every day reminds me of the joy and creativity that I get to experience through my work.

But it’s not just about the physical objects for me—it’s also about the mood and energy that I bring into my daily life. I find that music plays a huge role in my happiness, particularly disco music which never fails to lift my mood and get me excited about the day ahead.

Overall, I believe that happiness is all about finding the right balance between our external environment and our internal mindset. By surrounding ourselves with beauty and positivity and cultivating a sense of mental peace and contentment, we can create a life that is truly fulfilling and joyful.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

My greatest achievement has been every time we start a new project. It’s always an incredible journey filled with challenges and triumphs. Seeing our projects come to life and making a positive impact on people’s lives is a mega reward.

Fashionphile office, New York. Lighting Design by Studio Atomic, Project Management by Uli Wagner
Fashionphile office, New York. Lighting Design by Studio Atomic, Project Management by Uli Wagner
Fashionphile office, New York. Lighting Design by Studio Atomic, Project Management by Uli Wagner

What profession does your alter ego have?

If I had an alter ego, I will be a fashion stylist. As someone who loves experimenting with different styles and trends, I think it would be exciting to help others express themselves through their clothing choices. A stylist has the ability to transform someone’s image and boost their confidence, and that’s something I find truly inspiring.

The project you will never forget.

The project that I will never forget is the lighting renovation for the TWA terminal. It was a truly unique and rewarding experience that allowed me to learn so much about Eero Saarinen’s design philosophy and the meticulous attention to detail he put into every aspect of the space, including the lighting fixtures. We studied every fixture on the project, re-engineering them to use LED light sources, and tested them in the space. I spent countless hours in the building, sometimes by myself, taking measurements and doing lighting studies. It was a challenging project that required a great deal of expertise and creativity, but seeing the final result and how it transformed the space was truly unforgettable.

Your favorite business tool or resource.

My favorite business tool or resource would have to be my phone. It may seem like a simple answer, but in today’s fast-paced world, having a reliable device that allows me to stay connected with my team and clients, manage my schedule, and access important information on the go is crucial. With my phone, I have the flexibility, space, and photo camera, can Facetime to the job site, can show client spaces or lighting fixtures installed in other cities, and multiple possibilities. Also, I found WhatsApp the best tool to talk with multiple people involved in a project anywhere in the world.

The most timeless design.

When it comes to timeless design, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Guggenheim Museum. The iconic building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has been a source of inspiration and admiration for generations. Its unique spiral structure and organic form seamlessly integrate with the surrounding environment, creating a truly immersive and unforgettable experience. The natural light of the building mixes with incredible studied artificial light to illuminate the artwork. The Guggenheim in New York is, to me, the most outstanding space in the city.

The biggest design faux pas.

In my opinion, the biggest design faux pas is when the shape/look of the project is given more importance than purpose. A design that looks beautiful and or follows “tendencies” but doesn’t meet the needs of the users or fails to fulfill its intended purpose is ultimately a failure.

Your design motto.

My design motto is to embrace simplicity and elegance in our design. I believe that in order to create a perfect lighting layout, the lighting atmosphere must be practical and beautiful. A key element for me is to incorporate unique and vintage light fixtures, especially from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, to add character and personality to a space.

Our publisher KOKET makes statement décor; if you were to design a room around one KOKET piece, which would it be, and why?

I will use the Gia Pendant, I think this lamp material is so timeless. If I will use this lamp in a dining room or a Hotel guest room, it will bring warmness and fine reflections of the materials surrounding her.

gia pendant koket luxury lighting

Explore more Paola Pietrantoni and STUDIO ATOMIC at

Feature Image: Photo by Sergio Neuman-Bustamante // All Photos Courtesy of Studio Atomic

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