Assistant Professor of Design
Resident Costume Designer
Co-Chair of Production
Laila Swanson has been the Assistant Professor in Costume Design at Swarthmore College since 2009. She is also the faculty designer for Production Ensemble, advisor for Senior Company and Co-Chair of Production.
She previously taught classes in Costume and Set Design at Arcadia University, and she has been designing for a number of productions in Scandinavia as well as in the US. Between 1994-1996, she was particularly interested and involved in productions of plays by Henrik Ibsen in Norway and Sweden. In 1996-1997, she was commissioned by her hometown, Trondheim, Norway, to design and implement the production logistics of 1000 historical costumes, representing 997-1997 related to its Millennium celebration, and she collaborated with historians and curators, as well as with theater directors and production staff for this large scale event.
Her recent costume designs at Swarthmore College include The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The (24-Hour) Bald Soprano, Marie Antoinette, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Outside the college, Laila's collaborations include costume design for The Three Musketeers at Hedgerow Theater, Mr. Burns at Villanova University Theater, Henry IV: Your Prince and Mine for Shakespeare in Clark Park, and several Swarthmore alumni productions in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.
Her teaching is motivated by genuine interest for theater; play analysis; history and research; enthusiasm for collaboration and concept development, and, the final mise en scène in theater production, which is highly inspired by film, photography and paintings. She utilizes watercolor renderings for articulation of ideas.
Laila was the Costume Shop Supervisor at Swarthmore College from 2005-2009, and she was a long standing member of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees) as both costume designer and scenic artist. Her work as a scenic artist includes the movies of M. Night Shyamalan and other film productions in Philadelphia. Laila received an MFA in Set Design with additional credits in Costume Design from Temple University in 1994.