Driven by a passion for design and medicine, Sickeler’s career started in industrial design before she landed a job at an architecture firm and worked on her first healthcare design project. Thirty-five years later, she’s still devoted to this sector, while also finding time to practice French cooking, explore alternative medicine, and raise four chickens and two dogs.

What sparked your interest in design?

My parents’ house was an 1890s nursing home, which overlooked the bluffs and marshes of rural Wisconsin. My brother and I had our very own wards as bedrooms after the house was remodeled to be our family home. These surroundings sparked a connection to nature and a passion for design.

You started in medical illustration but ended up studying industrial design?

I grew up with a love of art and also the desire to be in the medical field, but quickly learned that I wasn’t cut out for medicine. I decided to blend my passions with medical illustrating, but taking basic anatomy wasn’t easy for me. An instructor asked if I’d ever thought about industrial design. I fell in love with the artistic and evidence-based curriculum.

What do you like best about working in healthcare design?

Working with our clients who support all that touches a person in need. In the end, they have one uniting goal: to save lives. It’s an honor to play a part in that activity.

Three unexpected items on your desk:

1. a sumo orange. Their funny shape lends to easy peeling and they smell so good.
2. jury duty summons
3. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day hand sanitizer (my new normal)

Favorite …

Dog or cat? I have two Golden Doodle dogs, Indie and Owen.

All my animals have been named after famous celebrities. Owen is blonde and is named after Owen Wilson, and Indie is the black one and is named after Indiana Jones.

Guilty pleasure Movies, lots of movies

Book “Dinner in French—My Recipes by Way of France: A Cookbook,” by Melissa Clark

Weekend activity I have four chickens and a coop, so they get more attention and treats on the weekend.

Movie character Bambi. Still makes me cry.

Band/musical artist Alicia Keys

App/website Khan Academy. I’m always learning.

Name three healthcare design projects you’ve worked on in the last year and your role on them:

1. Piedmont Healthcare System, Piedmont Wellness Center, Fayetteville, Ga., interior design principal

2. University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute, Cincinnati, interior design principal

3. Mayo Clinic, Mangurian Building, Jacksonville, Fla., interior design principal

Morning person or night owl?

Morning person. I’m just built that way. I get up at 6 a.m. with or without an alarm.

How did you make your first dollar?

Painting a mural on the window at the local Big Bob’s café with my dad. It was a winter scene for the holiday season.

Your hidden talent?

Reiki Level 1 First Degree (Shoden). I love to learn new methodologies that have to do with healing or helping people.

Cocktail of choice?


Your go-to karaoke song?

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It’s easy to sing and to sing loudly, and just a fun song that’s especially appropriate today.

If you weren’t an interior designer, you would be …

An art camp director/owner. Every summer during college, I worked as a director in the art department at a camp in Maine. It was quite a fulfilling job.