Can a design firm capture a client's individuality through artistry while staying committed to sustainability and social responsibility? The team at Studio SHK does all that and more, collaborating with consultants, fabricators, and builders to create unique spaces that carefully consider each client's needs, and each site's potential, while making design choices that are socially and environmentally sound — all while keeping cost in mind. Founder Sherry Hope-Kennedy infuses her work with a playful energy that clients can't get enough of. Learn more about the designer in our Q&A below.
1. How did you get started in design?
I must confess that I was “in the closet” for a very long time when it comes to design: I denied the fact that I loved all aspects of design - fashion, cars, interiors and everything in between. In my early twenties, I felt the need to prove myself as an academic and pursued a degree in Political Science and then worked for several years as a paralegal. I felt a void and began devouring all the design magazines and books I could find.
2. Studio SHK values “environmental and social responsibility” - what does that mean to you?
I work with my clients to create healthy interiors that focus on factors such as improved indoor air quality and energy efficiency: we use sustainability standards and energy rating systems as guidelines to our design approach and weave in natural elements throughout the process. We also try to design our projects to maximize natural lighting and natural ventilation whenever possible and to incorporate recycled and reused materials. Wherever possible we specify low VOC paints and finishing materials. We also try to limit our impact on the earth, sourcing from local builders and artisans, and recycling job-site waste. Most of our clients value “green” design and are already environmental stewards, so we are lucky to have the opportunity to support their preferences.
3. What’s the most memorable professional experience you’ve had thus far?
I had the opportunity to create a pop-up installation for the Exploratorium’s opening gala. The structure we created took a lot of work, but the result was really fun and playful. Our concept was “mad science” and we designed the furniture, installations, art and structure based on scientific formulas and concepts.
4. Best design trend to emerge in the last five years? Worst?
New takes on traditional architecture coupled with contemporary furniture. Design is moving away from the era of reclaimed wood and the contemporary era of less is more and more towards a deliberate fusing of styles. We like to layer the rawness of a material like concrete with something shiny like brass. One of the worst design trends is to design with standard words or phrases such as “eat,” in the kitchen.
5. What’s your process when it comes to creating a game plan for a new client?
We use a traditional five-step process; however, it is in the implementation of the the details to create a unique home or commercial space that reflects the personality or brand:
1. Programming — Discussing the clients’ likes, dislikes, budgets. This is the discovery phase where we listen and learn about the clients’ aspirations.
2. Schematic Design - Understanding the details where we take into consideration local codes, circulation, layout. We measure the space, work with the architects and come up with a framework.
3. Design Development - Creating a visual presentation. This may involve creating mood boards, design drawings, furniture recommendations and fabrics. This is where we get into the tactile details.
4. Documentation - We pull together construction documents and work with other project consultants. This is where we handle the more technical aspects of the project and present a complete set of plans, including pricing, floor, lighting and finishing plans.
5. Installation: Working with contractors and other team members to make sure the project is executed properly. Bringing the visuals to life in the physical space.
6. If you could switch jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
Beyonce. Who doesn’t want to be Beyonce? But seriously, I used to think I wanted to be an archeologist. While I don't have a specific person in mind, I would love to go on an excavation and uncover some rare dinosaur, artifact or piece of history. I know archaeology is much more than fieldwork, so I’d pick a day on which a big dig was scheduled!
7. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Hip-hop dancing. It is both choreographed and creative at the same time. If I ever have a spare morning, you can find me in the studio working up a sweat.
8. Name an artist that inspires you and tell us why.
The artists behind Calico Wallpaper, Rachel and Nick Copey, are so impressive. Their work is innovative, expressive, and playful - all things that are vital for good design. I immediately thought of them when I started designing our room for The San Francisco Designer Showcase.
9. Coffee or tea?
Bulletproof coffee in the morning to start the day, jasmine green tea in the afternoon with the occasional post-meal espresso.
10. Comedy or romance?
Comedy, but give me an action film any day of the week.
11. Early bird or night owl?
Lately, I have been forced to be an early bird, a very early bird.
12. Netflix or night out?
13. Beach or mountains?
Beach always trumps mountains.
14. Sweet or savory?
Sweet. I am on a three-month cellular cleanse right now and desperately craving chocolate anything.