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Designers to Watch

by Jenna Lippin
Sirabella’s concept for a hotel bar, “Whiskey and Velvet,” won Style Library Contract’s first-ever design competition.

Style Library Contract, the hospitality arm of one of the oldest textile manufacturers in the U.K. that has a significant presence in the U.S., has named NYSID student Sylvia Sirabella as the first-place winner of the company’s first design competition. Participating NYSID students designed a hospitality space utilizing products from

Style Library Contract’s six lines: Anthology, Harlequin, Morris & Co, Sanderson, Scion, and Zoffany.

The winning design, “Whisky and Velvet,” is a concept hotel bar. Sirabella, who is graduating in Spring 2018 with an MFA in Interior Design, will be flown to the U.K. to privately tour the Style Library Contract archive and meet with the design team. “I was familiar with and a fan of William Morris from my studies at NYSID, so getting the chance to visit the archive and see his original work and tools is an amazing opportunity,” Sirabella said. “I hope to specialize in hospitality design, which I think lends itself to creating dramatic, ‘wow’ moments. My design showcases my passion for playing with vivid color, texture, and scale. I wanted to capture the heritage of London as an important art and cultural center along with its historical resilience in light of Brexit and other current events.”

Prior to enrolling at NYSID, Sirabella studied finance and economics in her undergrad coursework at NYU Stern School of Business, as “it seemed like a good, solid, practical choice. I ended up in banking at Citibank for 12 years. The role was challenging, with a lot of responsibility, and I became a vice president. But, after a while, I didn’t have a passion for that sort of work.”

After taking time off from work to be a full-time mom, Sirabella wanted to change her career once her daughter went off to college. “I wanted to do something I love, feeling like it was a pleasure to work every day. I’ve always loved interior design. When I thought about going back to work, it was what I really wanted to do.”

The Style Library Contract design competition was the first contest Sirabella entered as an NYSID student. While it was a busy time of year with final exams and projects approaching, she felt it was a good opportunity to get a better sense of what design concepts are viable and relevant in “the real world…it was a really wonderful experience, and validating when I received the letter saying I had won.”

In addition, Sirabella was awarded a research grant last year through the ASID Foundation and Metropolis magazine. She is currently researching the work of industry legend Olga Gueft of Interiors magazine, and the results of Sirabella's findings will be shared publicly via the sponsoring organizations’ websites.  

Sirabella is currently working at HOK as an intern. “I think [the Style Library] competition has changed the course of my career,” she said. “HOK needed an interiors intern, so I sent my information their way. I reached out to Bill Bouchey [principal and director of interiors at HOK New York], he had me in for an interview, and here I am.”

When considering her future plans, Sirabella puts hospitality projects on her list of favorites. “But I am open,” she said. “At HOK I can explore large corporate environments and different design areas.”

Sirabella

A conference room designed by Sirabella that focuses on sustainability. | Photography courtesy of Sylvia Sirabella