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Partner Spotlight: Silvia Hoffman

She’s our fearless leader, the passion behind our team, and one of the founding partners at MKSD.  Silvia’s passion for design and creating thoughtful and functional solutions to our clients is at the forefront of all she does.  Though many of you know her, I bet you didn’t know that she is a new dog owner or that she loves Hallmark movies (especially the Christmas ones!)  Silvia’s never one to back down from a challenge and enjoys pushing our staff to use their creativity to its max!  Her leadership over the last 17 years has created an office dynamic second to none in the industry.  She makes us all work hard, design well, and most importantly have fun doing it!

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

Am I grown up yet?  Ha ha. I wanted to be an architect since I was in 11th grade, so this is pretty much it! I had a short stint where I considered being a pharmacist, (it seemed much more practical) but actually working in a pharmacy in high school made me change my mind.

Silvia with her husband Thom and daughters Julia and Eva

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Right now, my favorite hobby is playing with our new “Covid Therapy Puppy”. He’s a Yorkie named Dewey, is super cute and makes me laugh, which we all need right now. Besides that, I love spending time with my family in Dewey Beach (That’s where Dewey got his name and yes, relaxing is a hobby!) I am also looking forward to traveling to Italy again when we can.


What is the last tv show you binge watched?

Anne with an ‘E’ in Netflix. I try to watch things that are appropriate for my 15- and 13-year-old daughters, (which limits the options!) and this was an amazing series. It takes place in the early 1900’s but the themes are very relevant, even in 2021: women’s rights, bullying, discrimination, gender, and individuality.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

When I would get ahead of myself, my Nonna would say “Domani ci pensa Dio” which translates to “God will take care of tomorrow.” In other words…live one day at a time, don’t get overwhelmed, don’t become a victim of the ‘what if’s’. Focus and work on the present, today, the here and now. Planning for tomorrow is good but worrying about it is not.

What keeps you motivated and/or inspired? 

It takes very little to motivate or inspire me. The way I look at life is that I get to wake up every day and live my dream in a place where opportunity is limitless. I get to have a career I always wanted and run my own business and work with awesome people which gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I am lucky to have work to do every day and I am motivated by using my skills, experience and talent to make a positive impact on others. The opportunity to do these things everyday motivates and gives me tremendous satisfaction.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love learning about my clients and what they do and successfully designing spaces for them that they could not have imagined. When I’m doing design work, the day flies by and I lose track of time. I love that feeling.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it that influences the way you work today?  

My first job, at 16, was as a cashier at the Easton 25th Street CVS. I was quickly promoted to a Pharmacy Technician and considered becoming a pharmacist for a short time. Working in the pharmacy made me change my mind after I realized that it just wasn’t exciting enough. So, I decided I wanted to be an architect instead. I kept working at CVS as a part time job through college. Am I still influenced by my first job? Yes, I learned that customer service is key to ANY job!

What are three things you can’t live without in your workspace?

1. Music. I love to listen to music while I do just about anything and U2 is my favorite band since 1980.

2. Natural light. I find any space without a window unbearable and a nice view just makes it better

3. People. Another person to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with! I am an extrovert and the WFH has not been the best working environment for me.

What is one unique thing that others may not know about you?

I was born in Florence, Italy, and came to the US as baby when my parents and I immigrated to Easton, PA. I became a US Citizen on November 5th, 1999 when I was 27 years old.

Visiting Italy

Where is your favorite place to eat/visit/hang out in the Lehigh Valley?

Although I love the LV and there are many fun places to go and things to do, but this year, like many others, I have become a bit of a home body, which is perfectly fine! I was lucky enough to design our house and feel like it’s truly a sanctuary for me and my family. You will usually find me in the kitchen as I enjoy cooking and just hanging out at the table or island. When the weather is nice, you will find me outside: eating, reading and relaxing on the deck, patio or in the pool. I like having visitors!

Who is your favorite architect/designer and why?

Mies van der Rohe. Mies was a pioneer of modernist architecture who was famously known for saying ‘less is more’. He is my favorite if only because he designed the Barcelona Pavilion. The Pavilion was built in 1929 for the International Exposition. Sadly, it was torn down in 1930 as it was only an exhibit building, but through photos, it was extremely progressive for the time and it surely would have maintained its modern and striking aesthetic even today. The building was as simple as it was elegant with its low, thin roof plane that appears to float over walls below it as they seemingly slide past one another and creating open and closed spaces that blur inside and outside. The materials, onyx, travertine and marble, are composed in such a way that they create not only a beautiful building, but truly a work of art that captures a sense of serenity and tranquility.

What piece of advice do you have for anyone interested in your career path?

Don’t worry if you aren’t good at math. People would tell me I needed to be good at math to be an architect and I wasn’t that good. Don’t let the idea that you are not good at something stop you from doing it. I learned that sometimes I just needed to work harder and longer than others if you are not naturally skilled and sometimes hard work pays off even better. The math I use as an architect is nowhere near the calculus I barely passed in college! Also, if this is what you really want to do, then follow your dream.  Jump in and take every opportunity. Make your own path and don’t be discouraged by challenges. My High School counselor discouraged me from going to architecture school and I’m grateful I didn’t listen!

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