Sybille Herwig was hired as an interior design professional at HOK, a global design and architecture firm and one of the leaders in the industry, straight out of UCLA’s ARC-ID program. Since then, her skills and work have come highly regarded by past teachers, advisors, and current colleagues at HOK alike. We are excited to feature this rising star in the design industry this month, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.
When did you attend UCLA’s Extension ARC-ID program?
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Germany.
Where do you currently live, and how does it influence your work?
I live in Los Angeles, which is truly a hodge-podge of architectural styles. I am mostly inspired by the cultural diversity of the city and its people.
What attracted you to interior design?
I grew up in the performing arts and transitioned into the film industry when I moved to Los Angeles, mainly working in production. After more than a decade in the entertainment business, I mastered the skill of creative problem solving, but realized that I was catering to other people’s ideas and my own creative urges were left unfulfilled. On a new quest to making a living, applying all life experiences and holding on to the thread of creative expression as tight as possible, I discovered design.
What are you currently working on?
I am mainly designing creative workspaces for a vast variety of corporate clients in California and beyond. I just completed construction on a 14,000 SF office space in downtown Los Angeles and a 7, 000 SF space in Atlanta. I am also currently involved in projects in San Francisco and Seattle.
What are 3 qualities that got you to where you are today, professionally?
Creativity, great eye for detail, strong work ethic.
What is one of your biggest challenges?
Work life balance is a challenge, as working with demanding corporate clients also means demanding deadlines.
What does your typical day look like?
My mornings usually start off with tackling my emails before heading into a staff or various project team meetings. In the meetings we discuss project status and demands, as well as designs. As I usually work on 4 to 5 projects at a time - all at different stages in the design process – my days are very versatile. I am either working on space planning and programming, design development (including selecting finishes and furniture), or preparing presentations, 3D renderings and construction documents. A lot of time is also dedicated to meeting with clients, as well as with sales reps to learn about new products and design trends. It is a very fast-paced environment and good time management is of the essence to get it all done in a day.
Best career advice you’ve gotten?
Don’t make any assumptions! Basically meaning, don’t execute anything without full knowledge and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It prevents you from making mistakes and creating situations that could have been avoided if only you would have asked for clarification in the first place.
What is one helpful design resource you can recommend to our students as they enter the field?
Your senior peers. Drawing from the experience of others is truly the most valuable learning tool.
Something you wish you knew when first got started designing?
Don’t try to make it ‘perfect’ in the first round. Design is a process; it is movement. There is a method to the madness and that is called ‘development’. The best ideas often come when you are already exhausted. It is usually right there, at the end, when we reach discovery and push through to some new territory and a new, unexpected idea might blossom.
What do you love most about being an interior designer?
Seeing my ideas evolve into tangible architecture for people to live and work generates an immense sense of satisfaction.
Do you have a favorite project or story about a project?
I am still learning and evolving and I think the truly interesting stories will come with more seniority in the business.
In what ways/how do you keep up with current trends?
As mentioned above, I meet with a lot of sales reps that present products and design innovations. I also make a point of reading trade magazines, vising furniture showrooms, attending major design conventions and local design networking events.
What is your favorite thing in your own home?
That would be my insanely comfortable king size bed. It is my synonym for rest and tranquility placed in a perfectly feng shui commanding position.
What is something on your bucket list?
Working on a luxury hospitality project in Europe. Home sweet home…