We had the good fortune of connecting with Sybille Herwig and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sybille, we’d love to hear about how your approach to risk and risk-taking.
I believe that smart risk-taking invites opportunity. Meaning, do not be reckless with your choices, but branch out of your comfort zone, explore the benefits of doing so, look at the possible down falls versus pay-offs, and then jump. Without risk taking, I would not have been able to travel the world, come to the US, reach my far-fetched dream of working in Hollywood and now be an award-winning designer in an international market creating tangible architecture for people to work and play in.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am working as an interior design professional for HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. HOK has 23 offices with 1,700 professionals across markets and disciplines. Being one of the creative minds at a top firm in the design industry has been a great start for my new career. I am working with an amazing team of designers and architects to create innovative spaces. My scope of responsibilities ranges from design development, space planning, 3-dimensional modeling and client presentations to construction documentation and construction administration. Our international team infuses each project with global expertise, which really resonates with me. Diversity breeds innovation, and I am proud to say that my background in the performing arts, film production and world travel really gives me an edge in design. Seeing our ideas evolve into tangible architecture for people to live and work generates an immense sense of satisfaction. We are truly contributing to the enhancement of the built environment. HOK also proudly supports the development of many non-profit projects in our local community. My journey to becoming a designer was anything but linear. Born and raised in Germany, as the daughter of an engineer and an artist, I established my passion for everything and anything creative at a very young age. I spend my childhood and youth performing and teaching dance, which eventually brought me to Spain, where I worked as artistic director in major hotel resorts. My days were filled with choreography, rehearsals and performances in dance shows, musicals and plays. It was a wonderful way to express my love for the performing arts while experiencing life abroad for the first time. Eventually, a bigger sense of adventure took me on extensive world travel aboard cruise ships as an excursion and entertainment manager. Sixty-five countries later, I moved to California to pursue my bachelor’s degree in communication and film. Dreaming big, I made the leap to Hollywood working in film and commercial production as a production coordinator, producer and occasional actor. After more than a decade in the industry, 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. I was ready for another change and interior design became my new calling. I went back to grad school and received my master’s degree in interior architecture. Now, I get to create and implement my own ideas through a beautiful and freeing collaborative process. I see my new future in creating modern, innovative and sustainable design solutions for international hospitality and commercial clients. This journey definitely came with some challenges. Leaving my home country and trying to establish a solid career in the highly competitive (and expensive) city of Los Angeles was not easy. The biggest hurdle was getting my green card, which was a ten-year process full of logistical challenges, heartache and lawyer fees. Since I was dependent on visa sponsorships, I only had limited options for work. Despite my drive to make it in the film industry, I had to turn down many opportunities because of my immigrant status. Another struggle – and I am sure my fellow immigrants would agree – is the mere fact that wherever you go, you will miss a part of your home country and culture. Wherever you are, your roots will pull on you, but you adjust and integrate as much as you can into your new environment. One of the most important lessons I learned is: 1. Not everybody has your best interest in mind and 2. You need to learn how to ‘self-soothe’, how to give your soul a rest when life changes in a blink of an eye. There will be moments when entire support systems can collapse or plans and opportunities fall through. In order to keep going, re-focus and re-built, you need to be able to find an inner peace that comforts you until you find a new home, a new purpose, a new direction. Lean on the people that have the desire and emotional capacity to catch you. Let go of the rest. Find your center, be still for a while. Make moves when you are ready. My philosophy for both design and life in general is to always be brave and make a bold statement. I never want to have regrets about compromising my vision. 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. I am a creative through and through. Aside from that – on a soul, intellectual and ethical level – I am passionate about global politics and fighting social injustice. As a true empath, I suffer ‘Weltschmerz’; witnessing inequality and ignorance truly touches me to the core. I do not know how or when, but I am hoping to have a chance to have a bigger impact to make this world a better place in the future. If it is through the arts or architecture remains to be seen.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
LA TROPIZIENNE BAKERY @ La Brea – run by an amazing patisserie chef from Paris. Best place to start the day with the best French pastries in town. LE REPUBLIEQUE @ La Brea – for brunch $ architecture (built by Charlie Chaplin in 1928) 3RD STREET PROMENADE @ Santa Monica – for some shopping, street performers and people watching PARADISE COVE @ Malibu – for a scenic drive up Pacific Coast Highway and seafood lunch at the beach EL METADOR BEACH @ Malibu – for some sun-bathing and photo opportunities HARRIET’S ROOF TOP @ 1 HOTEL @ West Hollywood – for interior design, snacks & cocktails THE EDITION @ West Hollywood – for poolside cocktails on the roof BOSSA NOVA @ West Hollywood – best Brazilian food & people watching LITTLE NEXT DOOR @ 3rd Street – a little piece of Europe, great ambiance THE SOHO HOUSE @ Sunset – for the always anticipated celebrity sighting NO NAME BAR @ Fairfax – because you won’t anticipate it’s there SAGE @ Culver City – cute outdoor patio, best vegan restaurant MARGOT @THE PLATFORM @ Culver City – for dinner & interior design RUSH STREET @ Culver City – for my favorite tuna burger THE VENICE CANALS @ Venice – because visitors are usually surprised to see them HOTEL ERWIN ROOFTOP @ Venice – best views of Venice beach LE PETIT PARIS @ downtown – for lunch & architecture NEST @ RITZ CARLTON @ downtown LA – reason to dress up for stunning views and cocktails 71 ABOVE @ downtown LA – for a romantic high-end dinner and interior design PERCH @ downtown LA – for some outdoor live music and incredible city views LAKERS GAME @ STAPLES CENTER – because it’s the Lakers THE ROW @ east downtown – for Sunday’s Smorgasburg market & rooftop yoga THE BILMORE HOTEL @downtown – for tea time and some Hollywood history and architecture (best around Christmas/Holiday time!) OLIVERA STREET @ downtown – back to the roots, a lesson on LA’s origin LACMA @ Miracle Mile – for your must have art infusion THE ROOF ON WILSHIRE @ Miracle Mile – views, cocktails & desert (service is not great, but evening atmosphere is nice) CATALINA ISLAND – day trip to remember (best via helicopter!)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to Believe Media, a commercial & film production company, who enabled me to keep living my Hollywood dream for longer than anticipated and establish my footing here in Los Angeles. My second shoutout out goes to HOK, one of the nations leading architecture firms, which gave me an amazing start into a new career as commercial interior designer.
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