Team Member Q&A: Liz Friedman

Liz Friedman, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C

Principal | Interior Design Director

Workplace Interiors Studio

Liz received her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the University of Texas at Austin and has 21 years of experience and over 11 years of tenure at Ziegler Cooper. Liz is a creative and innovative thinker who is driven by creating a better workplace through a story. Each project is a unique journey that begins with asking questions and evolves into listening, interpreting, and creating distinctive design solutions that exceed the client’s goals and objectives. Motivated by curiosity, Liz stays current on workplace design and market sector trends to understand what is driving change in different industries and has a passion for sustainability that has resulted in numerous LEED registered projects.

Q: In your role as Design Director for ZCA’s Workplace Interiors Studio, you have to be intensively creative while overseeing design for all of the workplace projects. That is a huge task, given that there are dozens of design projects ongoing at any one time. In a nutshell, how would you describe the role you play in all of these projects?

My role is like a conductor who interacts with trends, work practices and each client’s needs to bring harmony and synchrony to the orchestra of design. It is my responsibility to ensure that ZCA’s designs are of the highest quality. Internally, that means helping our designers grow, making sure that designs are thorough, thought through and comprehensive. Externally, my role comes early in the project, working with our clients to establish goals and vision for each project, and clearly communicating that to the team. One benefit of having my role on a project is that I am involved in every significant project at Ziegler Cooper.  I have experience with many different project types and am therefore less distracted by the particularities of specific challenges for any individual project.  Instead, I have a grander vision of what is going on in the marketplace and how we can apply those themes in ways that meets each client’s vision, goals and needs.

Q: How important is mentorship and professional development in supporting the teams you work with, and how is that all achieved?

Absolutely critical! Design isn’t an individual thing, and a designer never stops learning. Designs happen by sharing ideas back-and-forth, brainstorming, and collaborating to arrive at a distinct solution for each client. It is essential for me to allow designers’ voices and ideas to be heard, then supportively ask hard questions through meetings and dry runs before presenting our solutions to the client.

Q: What aspect of your work do you find most enjoyable?

Hands down, the things I most enjoy are witnessing individual growth and watching clients move into their new space. I love to see our young team members maturing into strong, confident designers. Equally, when people occupy their newly designed workplace, I love to see how their lives are dramatically changed by having a new space that really works for them and impacts the way they feel about being at work.

Q: What is the special ingredient that you think guarantees a gorgeous design whether your client has a large budget, or they need something more modest?

The ability to listen. Good design is about solving problems, so it is about hearing what a client’s wants and needs are. Caring enough about each individual client to really listen – what’s going on in their world, what are their needs – is the necessary ingredient to create good design.

Q: As a busy and successful professional how do you manage to create a work-life balance?

Honestly, I spent a lot of years failing at this. I’m working on creating balance and for me that includes travel. Of course, COVID put a damper on that for a while, but I’ve recently begun my journeys again. Recently, I spent a wonderful vacation in Charleston and my next adventure will be in California. I feel this has helped the balance to return.


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