Always Seeking a Challenge
Kimberly (Bombery) Smith ’94
Kimberly (Bombery) Smith ’94 developed an appreciation for creativity and well-designed interiors at a young age. Interior design was introduced to her during holidays with her family. Her father’s cousin would visit from Chicago and show Smith her work.
Smith chose to attend Philadelphia University because it was the only school offering an interior design program that felt like a college campus. At that time, the program was going through the accreditation process. She recalls the incredible energy that was felt at the University. The program received its first six-year Council for Interior Design Accreditation (then FIDER) in 1994, Smith’s senior year. It was a memorable time for Smith because she experienced the four year review. She valued the exposure to different career paths within interior design at PhilaU.
Shortly after graduation, Smith began working at Merrill Lynch as a project manager. Before being offered her first job out of college, she was an intern at the company. Due to the large size of the company, Smith traveled frequently to the many branches across the country. She learned a lot about corporate design and construction in this role. Smith’s plan was to work for a small architectural firm after the birth of her first child. Instead, she was recruited by Knoll, a firm that uses modern design to connect people to their work, lives and world.
Smith is the architecture and design manager for Knoll in Philadelphia. She enjoys working at the firm because every day and every project is dynamic; leaving no room for boredom. The designers Smith works with help to create inspiring spaces that make her job fulfilling and fun. “Places that feel and look amazing make for a higher energy atmosphere,” explained Smith.
“The most rewarding part of my work is visiting a completed interior and seeing how amazing a well-designed interior changes the energy and vibe of a company,” said Smith. She often works long periods with project teams from Knoll and the client, which is why she enjoys seeing a project in its completion phase after careful planning, finish selection and installation hours. Smith is also the continuing education unit (CEU) provider for Knoll. She spends considerable time delivering CEU’s to design firms. She enjoys doing this because it allows her to be a source of new ideas. Reading plenty of articles and books about the industry allows her to stay abreast of current trends. Since Smith works in the Philadelphia market, she often sees and meets PhilaU alumni during her visits with design firms.
Smith’s guiding principle is to keep trying and inserting energy into ones work. “If you have outgrown something or need a new challenge, find a place that is right for you at that time of your life and career,” stressed Smith. “An unchallenged life is not worth living!”
In 2014, Smith received the Cranbrook Award at Knoll. This special recognition meant a lot to her because she was nominated by her peers. Receiving the award gave her the opportunity to be in the Sales Advisory Council and meet fellow Knoll colleagues across the nation. As a member of the Council, Smith is tasked with helping to improve some challenges within the firm. She is also involved with the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. Smith was the co-chairperson for the Tours and Education Committee when the 2013 U.S. Green Building Council’s annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo was hosted in Philadelphia. She admits that balancing the workload in a fast-paced environment can be challenging.
Although Smith has demanding schedule, she manages to be a wife, mother and employee. Knoll affords her the control of her schedule, giving her the freedom to spend time with her husband and two children. She is also the captain of a woman’s dragon boat team in New Hope, PA, which tests her physically and emotionally while allowing her to form a great sense of community. Smith’s advice to others, “Always challenge yourself to be the best you can be and travel a path of continuous improvement!”