In time for International Women’s Day, InspireDesign caught up with Jorey “Shosh” Friedman, the first female principal of SB Architects. She shared with us the journey that led her to this coveted title—a journey that didn’t always point to architecture—and advice she has for prospective design leaders:
What does it mean to you, on a personal level, to be the first female principal of SB Architects?
Being named the first female principal in a firm with a 60-year history meant a great deal to me. I feel incredibly proud of this accomplishment and I’m honored that I have the opportunity to pave the way for the future female leaders of SB Architects. At the same time, there is a level of responsibility that comes along with this role. It matters deeply to me that I’m a great role model, not only to the women in our firm, but to the industry as a whole.
What does it mean for the industry and the world of design? Will we be seeing more women enter these leadership roles? Why is this so critical right now?
It’s incredibly important… Female leadership breeds female leadership. SB has maintained a 50/50 ratio of men to women for many years. This balance is often a deciding factor for many potential new team members when interviewing with our firm. It’s critical that a workplace feels equal and progressive. Younger architects, especially female architects entering the industry, need to be able to see and envision a clear path to success.
What inspires you on a day-to-day basis? Where do you seek inspiration?
The diverse nature of our industry keeps me on my toes and provides me with unending inspiration. No day is the same. It all depends on what project I’m working on and where it is in the world. I also find myself inspired daily by the talented, driven team I work alongside. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and it makes coming to work each day a pleasure. To be honest, doing anything creative excites me…whether it’s designing a building, making a Halloween costume or wrapping a present. If it requires creative thought and execution, I’m all in.
How has your childhood/past jobs informed your love for design? Was this always your career goal?
No, it wasn’t. When I was younger, I envisioned myself as a veterinarian. Architecture was an 11th-hour suggestion from my father when I was applying to colleges. I added architecture to my mix of majors and left the decision up to fate. Cornell University’s School of Architecture accepted me, so architecture it was.
I spent several years living and working in Japan, which had a huge impact on me and my approach to design. Japan has a huge population with minimal space. All the buildings are small, but thoughtfully designed, with incredible attention to detail. I never looked at space the same way after that experience.
What advice do you have for younger generations of women wanting to get into design leadership positions?
Overall, define what success means to you and stay the course. You need to be prepared to be vocal, speak up, share your ideas and take a chance. Work on acquiring the skills you need to achieve the position you want and cultivate relationships with people you admire.
What is something the industry may not know about you?
I have a 3rd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate. In my third year of college, I fell in love not only with the sport but also with the Japanese culture. The sport led me to Japan. I worked as an architect for a few years and consequently began learning to speak Japanese at a conversational level. After moving back to the States, I began my career at SB Architects as a junior designer, and I’m currently celebrating my 26th year with the firm.
What design/architecture trends are you seeing for 2020?
There’s an increased appetite for hyper-localization. Today’s traveler wants to immerse themselves in the location and leave there knowing more about the place. Whether it’s history, culture, traditions or people, the guest wants to feel like they’re part of the destination, not just an outsider. We’ve also seen an increased interest in experience-driven travel and hospitality-focused senior living, which is very exciting.