After graduating with a BFA in Interior Design from Suffolk University in 2005, I started my professional career with entry-level positions at a couple different firms, eventually working my way up to a senior designer position with IA. Then I took a sales job with a lighting company to learn about another aspect of the industry, adding dimension to my understanding of design. While it was a valuable experience, a#er about a year I missed the collaborative and creative work I had been doing previously.

Since then I’ve been focused on high-value built projects in workplace, retail, residential, and hospitality. I’ve definitely found a home at Dyer Brown, where I’m able to make the most of my experience with both branded environments and human-centric design. As Director of Design I now have an opportunity to foreground culture-driven design approaches, and to grow and develop an amazingly talented team. I’m looking forward to pushing boundaries to see how much we can accomplish with each environment we create.

I have a habit of self-editng – stopping myself from sharing an idea that might actually have value – which is something that my colleagues at work will point out. They suspect I’m holding back and they want to hear everything I have to say. Is this quirk of mine related to being a woman, somehow? I’m not sure, but I know I’m not the only woman doing it. Anyone doing this in a collaborative setting, regardless of gender, is doing themselves and the group a disservice, so I am practicing oversharing to correct the habit. I sincerely believe that you must listen to your gut and your instincts, and honor them.

We have an amazing gift in this industry of being able to create every day. Each day presents itself with a new problem, a new challenge or a roadblock that we must pivot and adjust around. Female designers have a level of grace and calm needed to adjust, shift and pivot while also balancing and managing multiple other projects and or tasks at the same time. And within this problem-solving is a layer of empathy and intuition that guides us to the conversations needed to find solutions. It is the innate ability to reach down deep and go beyond what is thought to be possible that lives within each one of us.

Every artist, designer and creator brings elements of their life into their craft and it is those moments of life that are so inspiring. My role models are people who have succeeded in life in a way that is led with purpose and confidence and who make things look effortless and easy. The secret is those things that look successful and easy are usually the result of failures and lessons learned. My role models are the women who harness their strength, aren’t afraid to speak up and who create amazing things in this world that inspire and li# us all up. The most inspiring people in my life are the ones who lead with passion and allow that passion and stories within their life to influence how they create and how their creations positively impact the people around them.

I think women at every level across the range of design and building professions can distinguish themselves by thinking of the client first, all the time, every time. Clients depend on our expertise, and at a time of some fear and apprehension about a big project the designer can be a source of calm, taking some of their concerns off of their plate. Relief from that pressure is valuable for the client, which means it’s valuable for your practice. Ask questions and learn – there are so many amazing professionals in our industry! Sit down with them and talk to them, because their knowledge and friendship will take you far as you travel, learn and grow.

Building Enclosure Celebrates International Women's Day

Part 1 of a 2 part series

Main Article

Kimberly Hellekson Rebecca Thomas Kimberly Hellekson Kim McDonald Janice Sanada Ashley Goldberg Marivette Rodriguez Gayle DeBruyn Alana (Konefal) Lovegren Anna Dockery Stephanie Oestreich Sara Karim