The Designers

Sohail e. Najafi

Principal Designer | Chief Creative Officer

Sohail e. Najafi began his career designing primarily for the stage, but in 2008 broadened his ambitions to include design for special events and concerts. In 2014 he added design for multi-camera television to his repertoire with his first full-length network special. In the time since, his designs have premiered on networks such as Comedy Central, Netflix, and Showtime.

Additionally, Sohail thoroughly enjoys designing rich and imaginative lighting designs for permanent installations ranging from performance venues to themed entertainment environments and high energy nightlife experiences.


Over the past twelve years, Sohail has developed a method that is based on individually tailored service coupled with strict attention to detail to create only the most exceptional of designs. Originating from Northern California, Sohail settled in Los Angeles after attending UCLA's School of Theater, Film, & Television, where he received a formal education in stage design and directing with specialties in both lighting and sound design.  IMDb

Joshua Cuellar

Principal Designer | Chief Operating Officer

Joshua began his career in entertainment as a musician.  As a classically trained pianist, he found himself crossing over into the world of theatre by playing piano in the orchestra pit for many musicals in and around his community.  Although his passion for music quickly evolved into a broader passion for design, however Joshua still relies on his musical origins to create refined lighting designs with a uniquely dynamic flare.  A California native, Joshua received a formal education in theatrical design from UCLA’s school of Theater, Film, & Television. 


Prior to co-founding Stories Illuminated™, Joshua served as head of the Entertainment Production Services electrics department at Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.  While tenured there, he learned to combine his artistic and technical knowledge with an unparalleled level of service.


Joshua’s design specialties primarily focus around large scale corporate and high end special events as well as permanent architainment installations.  With a keen eye for details, Joshua enjoys the technical challenges involved with programming Stories’ pixel mapped displays.  In addition he regularly acts as gaffer for the firm’s televised lighting designs. 

Derek Jones

Associate Designer

Derek’s journey into the arts began as an actor and musician.  As his interest in live performance grew, he transitioned into design, collaborating on works for fashion, museum, dance, and theater along the eastern seaboard including New York, Washington D.C., and Virginia.


Specializing in architectural lighting design for hospitality and themed environments, Derek supports our Architainment division with unending creative energy and technical prowess.


Derek holds adjunct professorships at three Southern California colleges including Glendale College, Long Beach City College, and Los Angeles City College.

He received both a BA in Theatre and BS in Physics from The George Washington University and his MFA in Lighting Design from Indiana University.

Brandon Baruch

Lighting Designer

Brandon started his career designing for theater, dance, opera, and live events around Southern California, later expanding his repertoire to include film and television.


His lighting designs for notable companies include Center Theater Group in Los Angeles, Chicago Opera Theater, the Long Beach Opera, as well as Freeform TV's "The Fosters".


Brandon also serves as an adjunct professor of lighting design at the University of La Verne and holds a degree in theater from Occidental College, where he studied playwriting, directing, and lighting design. He combines these passions in his design approach, creating dynamic, atmospheric worlds of light that heighte the emotional arc of the piece while propeling its narrative.


Brandon also continues to write new plays and has had multiple works presented in Los Angeles and New York.

Ric Zimmerman

Lighting Designer

Ric’s lighting career began over 15 years ago at a small local television station in Southern California and has since expanded to include hundreds of dynamic designs for theatre, dance, live events, concerts and television both nationally and abroad. His work has been seen across the continental US, Europe, Asia, Central and South America--and daily in your local sports bar.


Favorite collaborations include designs for Microsoft, Samsung, Boeing, Panasonic, Verizon, Center Theatre Group, LA Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, and Rogue Machine among many others.

Other work encompasses several shows for ESPN and concerts for such artists as Cyndi Lauper, Macy Gray, Esperanza Spalding,The Bird and the Bee, and Seun Kuti.

Ric is a resident lighting designer for AMDA Los Angeles, and received his BA in Music Theory from Loyola Marymount University.

© 2020 Stories Illuminated™ LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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