EDITED BY CARRIE MEADOWS
Carey Schuster is president and CEO of Yellow Goat Design’s North American division, a full-service lighting design firm that was founded in Queensland, Australia. Schuster’s path has been full of twists. After growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, she attended Penn State University. Upon graduation, she interned in the White House and on Capitol Hill before settling into a position as a junior lobbyist for the American Apparel & Footwear Association. However, she soon realized that her passion lay in design, prompting her to obtain a master’s degree in interior design from Marymount University.
After working in Australia for several years, Schuster returned to the U.S. to launch Yellow Goat Design domestically in 2011, backed by a skilled team of designers realizing award-winning lighting, screen, and sculptural art projects. Despite a depressed economy, the American division was successful, thanks to Schuster's leadership. It has since become a significant player in the lighting design field, winning several architecture and design industry awards. Here, Schuster shares insights about her firm.
Firm mission, in layperson terms: To design and fabricate meaningful, engaging, storytelling pieces that will increase bottom lines for clients. We aim to create products that serve more than a decorative purpose; they will be crafted to deliver a message that will stand the test of time.
What we are known for: Yellow Goat Design has created lighting, screen, and sculptural art designs for the hospitality, corporate, retail, healthcare, aviation, multifamily residential, and education markets for more than 20 years. We take great pride in our designs and processes, which are unique and jaw-dropping in execution.
What people don’t know about us: When the company was founded by Australian artist Jerzy Lesko, he required each prospective designer to work on the factory floor for six months to get a deep understanding of the manufacturing process and materials. We’re a team of hands-on craftspeople, artists, and designers — and the best part is most of that staff still works at the company today.
Our firm culture: We're a creative team with a client-first mentality, constantly striving to make an impact in design and to inspire others. It can be difficult for small businesses to evolve and grow, but the team- and client-oriented culture makes way for a successful sales engine.
First commission (product or project): One of the company’s first North American projects was at the Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square in Toronto. Hanging in the lobby is an ultramodern take on a pendant — called “The Knot” — built with more than 100 Spiroflex wands. Our studio loves exploring unconventional materials to create a show-stopper end product for our clients.
Favorite product/project by our company and why: One of our favorite projects is the two custom pieces we made for the Uber headquarters in San Francisco. A large-scale, powder-coated aluminum, seamless lit screen welcomes visitors to the event space and is the defining design element between the lobby and the workplace. It acts as a meeting point and a wayfinder while showcasing Uber’s brand ethos of movement in everything it does. The “ribbon” sculpture extends the length of the workspace café space and reflects the design elements below. It creates a central design that harmonizes the space with several hundred acrylic hanging rods that reflect and diffuse light.
What we’re working on: We recently launched our spring collection, “Brief Epiphany.” This collection captures a fleeting moment of connection, aiming to achieve transcendence, beauty, and joy. With a palette of bright pastels in dynamic shapes, the emphasis is on motion and recognizing the importance of the present.
A lighting trend to leave behind: I’d love to leave behind fabric drum pendants. They typically collect dust and create pin-light shadow effects instead of diffusing the light evenly.
Advice to anyone interested in entering the lighting industry: Anyone interested in the design industry should take the time to travel and surround themselves with different artists, cultures, and colors. When you arrive at a design firm, you’ll be expected to have constant ideas, and you can only get so much inspiration from online platforms.
Technology, product, or designer you admire: I’ve been inspired by Lindsey Adelman. Her designs are beautiful and sophisticated, and she's created a remarkable niche despite using typical materials. I also admire Peter Marino, especially from a business standpoint. His clients trust him and often don’t go anywhere else, which is an impressive accomplishment.