Reflecting on an Exemplary Career with an Extraordinary Leader

KSS Architects Principal Sheila Nall, ASID,  LEED AP is retiring after an illustrious 45-year career designing corporate environments for companies and institutions across the country. As a vital member of the KSS family for the past 21 years, Sheila has personified our firm’s belief that design can only achieve greatness when rooted in human relationships. We sat down with Sheila to reflect on and celebrate her contributions to KSS, to our clients, and to our community, and to find out what she has planned for this new chapter of life.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning—what motivated you to pursue a career in Interior Design and how did you get your start?  

A: My family has a strong background in art. My parents met at art school, and my siblings and I all went into artistic fields. Growing up, I had a love of jigsaw puzzles and I think the ability to see shapes and how they best fit together relates directly to my love of space planning. Understanding the components that make up a client’s work environment and arranging them in an optimal way is so very satisfying. 

My high school art teacher was a big fan of the University of Cincinnati and urged me to attend.  It was the first accredited Interior Design program in the country and was ranked number one for a number of years.  One of the outstanding aspects of the UC curriculum was its co-op program.  I spent four of my six quarters of co-op working at Disney World, each quarter in different design department: Master Planning, Graphic Design, Store Planning, and Interior Design, respectively. 

The connections I made at Disney took me to Atlanta, where I started my professional career working for major architectural firms there.  I spent 22 years in Atlanta, building a network and a portfolio of work with clients such as IBM, Barnett Bank, SunTrust Bank, Nationsbank, and Merrill Lynch, to name a few.

Q: What stands out to you most about your 21 years at KSS?

A: My favorite thing about KSS is the way we all work together and learn from one another.  As young designers and architects have come and gone over the years, I have learned from them all.  That’s the thing I think I will miss most—the continued sharing of ideas and working to develop design solutions by seeing through new eyes. 

The familial nature of the firm sets it apart from others.  The many opportunities for us to be together in a non-work setting—happy hour, ski trips, seasonal parties and gatherings, community service activities—have made this a wonderful place for me to call “home” for the past 21 years. 

Q: When you reflect on your career, what are you most proud of?

A: I’m proud to have made a positive impact on everyone I’ve worked with, to have made their work experience positive and made them happy. I’ve been so lucky to have such great people on my team and to have been able to be their mentor.

Q: What is your hope for the future of the Interiors group at KSS and for the firm as a whole?

A: My hope for the future of interiors and the firm as a whole is to continue this growth and advancement with a laser focus on the success of our clients, realized through the great environments we team with them to create. 

Q: What are your plans for your well-deserved retirement?

A: I’ve thrown myself completely into my work and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to discover new things about myself, new passions. I’m planning to volunteer at WXPN—I’ll be checking people in at their “Free at Noon” shows and wearing a volunteer vest at their summer festival. It’ll be a great way to feed off of the energy of the music and people. I’ll also hang out with my husband, ride my bike, pump some iron, and maybe learn how to climb a rope. And learn Spanish. We’ll continue to travel and see as much of this world as we can while we’re here.