As a proudly female-owned and operated business, part of the mission at Elysian Collective is to support and uplift fellow women in business, as well as female artists and makers who are creating extraordinary works to be celebrated and cherished. To cap off our Anniversary Month - which happens to also be Women's History Month - we sat down with Kellie Sirna of Dallas-based Studio 11 Design to discuss her experience growing her own business, as well as her approach to interior design and styling.
As Principal and Founder of Studio 11 Design, Kellie Sirna has designed some of the hospitality industry’s most inspiring spaces while growing the firm from a three-desk operation in 2011 to multi-city offices with 50+ team members. Kellie recently received the hospitality design industry’s most prestigious recognition, landing on the cover of Boutique Design Magazine as Studio 11 Design was named the 2022 Design Firm of the Year. Under her leadership, Studio 11 Design has achieved numerous accolades ranging from Inc. 5000 recognizing the firm’s growth to Interior Design’s Hospitality Giants honoring the firm’s commitment to their craft.
"I credit much of my success to the people, including many of my own team, who have helped me find a home in hospitality."
EC: Congrats on your award of Boutique Design’s 2022 design firm of the year! What an amazing way to cap off 11 years in business. What’s the most important lesson from your experience for those new to building a business from the ground up?
KS: It is vital to find your community and evolve with them. The designers, artists, hoteliers, restaurateurs, chefs, editors, and more I’ve met on my journey have become extended family members. We’ve watched our kids grow up on the road traveling for various projects. We’ve made it through global crises to see our projects come to life. We’ve learned from each other’s mistakes, built companies we’re proud of, and been a support system every step of the way. I credit much of my success to the people, including many of my own team, who have helped me find a home in hospitality.
EC: Is there a project in your portfolio you’re most proud of? What about this project makes it so memorable/meaningful for you?
KS: Thompson Buckhead and Thompson Savannah were memorable projects for our team because of the heavy emphasis on incorporating local art and found objects. Both projects were new builds located within destinations that have an intricate, enduring connection to the arts. These projects challenged us to weave a new narrative for the destinations through our deep dive into sourcing and styling for each property. We worked heavily with local artists, antiques dealers, local storytellers and booksellers to develop that last layer that really makes a project pop.
The 201-room luxury lifestyle property features chic midcentury interiors imbued with the warmth of Georgia hospitality. Jamie and Michael collaborated with the team at Studio 11 to select pieces from the collection to showcase throughout the hotel's public spaces. The earthy elegance of the Brazilian Soapstone pieces chosen adds an alluring element to the hotel's styling layer thanks to their graceful shape, purity of form and balance of lines, helping the hotel's interiors to strike a balance between modernity and the classic beauty of the surrounding neighborhood.
EC: What memories and experiences do you most draw from when creating a concept for a new project?
KS: I love to start with the neighborhood, history of the area and sometimes weaving in the story of the hotelier/restaurateur for a more personal feel. Another huge source of inspiration I derive from is my travels. The opportunity to see the work of the great masters up close and buying art at local markets sticks with me today. I think it’s so important to learn from the creative geniuses from before our time and learn the rules. As Picasso said, then you can figure out how to break them.
EC: We know from our collaborations with your team that you place a high amount of importance on the art and accessory layer and final styling of a project. Walk us through that process for you.
KS: Our work begins with a deep dive into the destination’s history and the building’s cultural significance and architectural heritage. Understanding the environment adds color to a project’s context. Then, we work with our clients to determine their goals, the function of each space, their budget and timeline. We’ll proceed through the process into the final step, which is the fabrication and fit out. Because of our deep research at the project’s onset, we’ll be able to seamlessly dive into sourcing the art and found objects that complete the narrative. We identify early which pieces we would like to be found and throughout the construction phase we make a series of local sourcing trips, meeting with vintage owners and scouring antique shops while also working with our great accessory vendors like Elysian Collective to pull together the final touches.
EC: Shopping the collection with Kellie: what are your favorite pieces from the Elysian Collective catalog?
KS: I love the feminine beauty contrasted with the sharp lines of The Muses. References to Greek mythology — which is so ingrained with literature, science, and the arts — lend gravitas to a space in a way that feels effortless and artful.