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Meet Sybille Herwig of HOK in Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sybille Herwig.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sybille. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
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 spent my childhood and youth performing and teaching dance, which eventually brought me to Spain where I worked as an 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 communications 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.

Design is exhilarating, especially in an ever-changing global society. My goal is to cross borders and language barriers with creative commercial and luxury hospitality projects, but also in the affordable housing market. I believe that designers have a social responsibility to create spaces that give back to the community.

Every creative endeavor, every journey to a different country, a different city, every cultural experience and the diverse and amazing souls that crossed my path act as driving forces behind my ideas.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
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 immigration 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.

HOK – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
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 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 creative arts 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 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.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I am proud of what I accomplished, not monetary, but simply the colorful path I was able to travel and the many creative projects that I was part of here and abroad. As a little girl from a small German city, I dreamed of traveling the world and coming to Hollywood. I have achieved that goal and now, as a designer, I get to take those experiences and pour them into my creations. If it wasn’t for the struggle and the immersion into a variety of different cultures, the sensitive social consciousness, as well as the thick skin that I developed throughout it all — basically, everything that I learned since stepping onto a theater stage for the first time at age eight — I would not be able to have this strong creative footprint in my new career so early on.

Starting over is about discovering new things within yourself and pushing those hidden talents to the surface. Hold onto all your past experiences and infuse them into your new endeavors. So when we start over, whether in a career, a relationship, a new city or even a new country, we are richer because of everything we have experienced.

I am starting over right now, as I decided to leave the film industry and go back to grad school to establish a new creative career in the design field. Interestingly enough, it does not really feel like a ‘start-over’, but more of a continuation of my creative journey. Granted, starting over in terms of financial success is a true downfall, but that is temporary.

New adventures come at a price, but the payoff you get for being true to yourself and seeing new goals coming to fruition is priceless. If there is anything that I am more conscious about now, it is being more selective about the people that I am inviting with me on my journey. They can delay or accelerate it. Ultimately, if you have courage, nothing can stop you.

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