Laila Swanson has been the Assistant Professor in Costume Design and Set Design at Swarthmore College since 2009, and she is also the faculty designer for Production Ensemble, advisor for Senior Company and Co-Chair of Productions.
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 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, As You Like It, Airswimming, The Seagull, A Bright Room Called Day, and Dublin by Lamplight. Recent off-campus collaborations include the costume designs for Mr. Burns for Villanova University Theater, Henry IV – Your Prince and Mine for Shakespeare in Clark Park, Big Love for Temple University Theater, Dead Man's Cellphone and A Bright New Boise for Simpatico Theatre Project, and Funnyhouse of a Negro for Brown University.
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 for the Department of Theater and Dance Department at Swarthmore College in 2005-2009, and she is a long standing member of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees) as both costume designer and scenic artist. Her work as scenic artist includes the movies of M Night Shyamalan and other films made in Philadelphia 1998-2006.
She received an MFA in Set Design with additional credits in Costume Design from Temple University in 1994.