FRINGE Décor: Creating a Personalized Workspace, with Designer Sydney Ribelin

Sydney Ribelin, a visual design specialist at bkm OfficeWorks, is also a valued member of the FRINGE design team. Her job starts with understanding each client’s unique needs and then developing furniture plans that fit the desired function and aesthetic. Through her various responsibilities, she strives to give clients “a realistic idea of what to expect for their spaces.”

Sydney says, “I grew up with a very creative dad who could build just about anything. He always had a project (or 12) that he was working on. I learned a lot about my creative side from him. Even as a child, I used to move the furniture in my room around all the time, and loved the way I could change the feel of a space just by how things were arranged. It’s what drove me to take an intro interior design course my freshman year of college, and I never stopped!”

Q: Can you tell me a little about what you do as a visual design specialist?

A: My job entails project design from start to finish. We begin with understanding a client’s needs and then develop furniture plans that fit that function and aesthetic. I also focus heavily on bids and create high-level 3D visuals (e.g., renderings, animations, 360 VRs, etc.).

Q: What is FRINGE to you?

A: To me, FRINGE is the all the important details, the final touches that bring everything together. While FRINGE is a relatively new concept for our company, it’s something that is very familiar to us as designers. Before FRINGE, most of our projects only allowed us to be involved with the furniture. FRINGE offers something unique by letting us have a more in depth hand in the project, to really create a robust and compelling space for our clients.

Q: Why do you think FRINGE is important?

A: Our work with FRINGE is important because it ties everything together and adds personality—a human touch—to the space. It just feels more natural and lived-in, in a nice, aesthetically pleasing way.

At bkm OfficeWorks, when we factor FRINGE into our design concepts, we think about accessory options and final touches and everything in between, not just furniture. You can have all the beautiful furniture in the world, but without a personal touch, it can feel a little empty, like it’s missing something. FRINGE gives us the opportunity to personalize a space and make it feel invigorating and welcoming.

Q: What is your favorite facet of FRINGE?

A: We have a decent-sized design team here at bkm OfficeWorks, and pretty much every designer owns their own projects. What I like about FRINGE is that it makes us feel like a closer-knit group, and it gives us more opportunities to collaborate with other designers on projects. I really think we create better designs this way.

Q: What are your passions/things you enjoy doing?

A: I love being outside in nature, and I love being with animals. But I also love to do things with my hands. I mean, I am a designer! I’m not much of a painter, though, and I don’t really draw, but I enjoy being creative in other ways. Sometimes that means building something or doing DIY projects around the house.

Q: What is your personal design aesthetic?

A: I’m kind of all over the place. I definitely like to use earth tones as well as natural materials and textures. I also like to play around with mixing old and new. It’s really just whatever gives me a good feeling. What I’ve always loved about design is you can completely change someone’s perspective and the feeling they get when they walk into a space, just by how you design it. I like to play with different designs; it doesn’t have to be my preferred aesthetic. I enjoy that. It’s a lot about feeling for me, rather than a formulaic way of doing it.

Q: If you could only have one piece of furniture in a room, what would it be?

A: A sofa, mainly because it’s versatile. It can be a statement piece for sure, and it can serve any purpose I would need in a room.

Q: If someone runs into you at a bar, what drink should they buy you?

A: There’s nothing better than an espresso martini! It has sweetness and the coffee gives you a jolt of caffeine energy, with the sophistication of a martini in that special glass.

Q: If you could sit down and have lunch with any designer, who would it be and why?

A: There’s an interior designer named Amber Lewis. She does strictly residential for the most part, but I love her style. She plays with a lot of textures and does a lot of that “what’s old is new” style. She started her own business from the ground up, and now she has a really successful store. I’d love to pick her brain about that because I want to eventually work for myself and maybe even start my own design firm.

Q: If you could be an expert in any facet of interior design, what would it be?

A: I like the physical, technical aspect of design. It would be very cool to be an expert in the actual building side of things, the architectural part. I would love to have my hands in both architecture and design and have the ability to bring an idea in my head to life.

Q: Where do you pull design inspiration from the most?

A: Definitely nature. Natural elements. And yeah, it’s usually my instincts that drive my design choices versus a certain aesthetic. 

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A: I feel the best place ever would be New Zealand! I have a lot of family from there, and I’ve heard great things, but I’ve never gone there myself. I have a friend who took a trip there (before COVID-19), and she took some of the most stunning pictures I’ve ever seen. For instance, she captured shots at the base of a mountain range in these beautiful lavender fields with gorgeous, snow-dusted mountains behind her and the water ahead. I was like, “this place isn’t real!”