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Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Kellie Sirna, Studio 11 Design

The global hospitality designer shares insights on a range of topics, including founding her firm while raising toddlers, the growing use of environmentally friendly materials, and her backyard garden.
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Kellie Sirna Studio 11 Design

Kellie Sirna has designed some of the hospitality industry’s most inspiring spaces. She’s also launched two verticals: Brand Bottega, a brand identity and design component, and Lou Verne by Studio 11 Design, a team specializing in art curation, creation, and styling. “An expanded team and prospective international projects, open up exciting opportunities for us,” she says.

In her extended 2024 Dallas 500 Q&A, Sirna—one of the executives on the cover of the 2024 edition—discusses her passion for art, earning Design Firm of the Year honors, and more.

Education: University of North Texas (BFA)

Best Advice: “Running a business in the creative industry requires that we don’t just seek out trends, we must create them. I’ve found that embracing curiosity and staying open to life’s lessons is vital for evolving in an ever-changing industry.”

Dinner Party: “Dinner with interior designer Michelle Nussbaumer because she’s a world-traveler, who’s unapologetic about her love for maximalism, we would have a lot to talk about. Robert Allen, the new CEO of the Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership, is a Dallas native and multigenerational Texan whose commitment to our community I really relate to.”

Destinations of Choice: “I have a soft spot for historic neighborhoods with strong storytelling narratives to discover such as the Bishop Arts District in Dallas. Internationally, Barcelona, Spain, captivates me with its singular blend of cosmopolitan energy and nature inspired architectural wonders by Antoni Gaudí.”

I Collect: “Absolutely, I’m an avid collector of art from my travels. My very first purchase after graduating from design school was a painting in Athens and ever since, I seek out opportunities to purchase works from local artists everywhere I travel.”

Hobby/Passion: “Hot yoga and gardening. I enjoy doing both to relax alone and it’s the most fun when my two boys join in.”

Industry Change: “If I could change one thing about the interior design industry, it would be to make sustainable practices and materials the standard rather than the exception. It’s important to prioritize both aesthetics and environmental responsibility.”

Local Fare: “I love Carbone and we’re lucky that one of the four in the U.S. is right here in Dallas. I live for spicy food so my go-to order is the Spicy Vodka Rigatoni. The service is impeccable, the atmosphere is electric, and there’s something for everyone on the menu.”

Guilty Pleasure: “My guilty pleasure is entertaining at home and pulling out all the stops. I love elaborate tablescapes and leaning into themes to create memorable ambiances for my guests.”

Fun Fact: “People are always surprised that I manage to maintain a very green thumb. My backyard is flourishing with okra, squash, lavender, blackberries, melon, and several varieties of tomatoes and of course, a variation of hot peppers.”

Go-to Adviser: “Stacy Shoemaker Rauen is the editor in chief of hospitality design and a senior vice president of the design group at Emerald. Throughout the many years that we’ve been friends, she’s been an inspiration to me and a great support. Stacy’s insight, commitment, and enthusiasm for an industry as tough as ours is unmatched.”

Toughest Challenge: “Overcoming the challenge of scaling the business while maintaining the personalized touch that defines our brand was a pivotal moment. Streamlining processes without compromising quality was a delicate balance.”

First Car: “I got a 1993 Corsica. It had bucket seats, am/fm radio, and the manual roll down window. I loved driving it through every field party in high school. Since, I’ve driven many different cars throughout the years but most recently, a Tesla, which I love.”

Proud Moment: “Our most significant success was being named Design Firm of the Year by Boutique Design Magazine. Being named number one in the world was so validating for our team. With this achievement behind us, the sky’s the limit for 2024.”

A Better DFW: “I would encourage even more collaboration and synergy between local businesses. Strengthening the ecosystem fosters innovation and growth.”

Pivotal Moment: “While founding my own hospitality design firm had been a long term goal, the timing was surprising. I wasn’t expecting or planning to start Studio 11 Design when I did. I took a leap of faith and raising a one and three year old. Pushing myself to my limits early on helped me prove to myself that I could take on any challenges.”

Walk-up Song: “Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ is a timeless tune for getting the party started. Being comfortable in your skin is a message everyone can relate to. No matter what situation I’m in, the song never fails to make me feel like the world’s mine for the taking.”

Must-read: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I love the flexibility of entrepreneurship, the creative process, and trying to juggle it all as a single mom. There’s always been little time to think about how I approach building habits around my busy lifestyle. So the science behind habit-building is fascinating and so supportive of my growth in all my roles professionally and personally.”

Spirit Animal: “A chameleon. Just as a chameleon adapts to its environment, I love the notion of adapting to life. Being nimble and flexible is key for achieving success in a client-facing industry with nuanced challenges of its own.”

Alternate Reality: “I would likely be an art curator because I love the process of sourcing. It’s thrilling to act as the liaison between clients who are struggling to identify their own artistic inclinations and local artists who want to get their work out in the world.”

Bucket List: “Taking my two boys on a 15-day trip through Spain, stopping in five cities, and visiting iconic sites like the Sagrada Família and Park Güell was a dream come true. Crossing off this bucket list item wasn’t just about the places we visited; it was about the shared experiences, the connection to art and culture, and the lasting impressions that inspire our family and my design work. It’s a journey I’ll always treasure, as it solidified the belief that travel and exploration are powerful tools for personal and creative growth.”

Key Leadership Strategies: “I value fostering a creative and inspiring environment. I really enjoy mentorship in all its forms and have met friends that have come like family through the hospitality industry and through the Dallas community.”

Future Forecast: “The future of our company holds immense promise, and I’m particularly thrilled about two key aspects. First, the expansion of our talented team means we’re gifted with fresh perspectives and a diversity of expertise. Secondly, the prospect of engaging in international design projects opens up exciting opportunities to explore different cultures, architectural styles, and design philosophies. Both of these developments enrich our portfolio and push the boundaries of our creativity.”

Author

Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…

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