With years spent in Equatorial Guinea, Montreal, and New York, Samira Gagné Ludwin is something of a polymath – her work takes her from designing the interiors of well-appointed homes and startups to metalwork, creating adornments for both the home and the body.
Samira’s gorgeous taste and creative background meet in her inviting Oakland walkup, which she shares with her husband and their 10-month-old son, Leo. I got the chance to swing by Samira’s place to talk about decorating, style, and- of course- our shared love of jewelry.
Danica: Designing for someone’s space is such a personal partnership. How do you help people realize their individual style? And how would you describe your own aesthetic when it comes to interiors?
Samira: Designing someone’s space is a little bit like being a therapist, actually. Oftentimes, people know they like something but they can't articulate what it is that they like about the space. Your home or office is a place where you spend most of your time, so I want to be sure that my clients feel joy when they're in their space. My job is to uncover what it is that they love, and translate it into reality.
My own aesthetic tends to be a mix of high and low. I absolutely love hunting for that special vintage piece at flea markets, garage sales, or on Craigslist and then pairing it with a some higher end, newer pieces. My home is constantly evolving and changing based on what I find as well as my growing family's needs--I have a 10 month old so right now we're into being super minimal which means putting away lots of the small antique finds and tchotchkes!
D: What are your favorite objects to work with when designing a space? Where do you source your inspiration?
S: I like to keep my interior design work collaborative with my clients. At the end of the day, I want them to be happy with their space. I always start out a project by pinning- creating a board where my client and I can both add inspiration. I love kicking off a project, looking at the raw space and imagining all the different ways it can be used.
I find inspiration everywhere through travel and visiting new places. The Internet is full of inspiration, but I still enjoy looking through design books and magazines. I'm always inspired by my clients, the things they like, how they choose to spend their time in their home, if they like to entertain and how.
D: Tell me about your dream project. Where is it/what does it look like/who are you working with?
S: Designing a home and flipping/building it with my husband. And I think it would be so much fun to design a cafe or a boutique.
D: You’ve been working as a freelancer for years now. What helps you stay focused and motivated – especially now, as a new mom?
S: Before I had my son, I could spend hours and hours on a project… having a baby has forced me to be much more efficient with my time. In a funny way, I feel much more focused now than I did before I had him. When I'm with my boy, I get a mental break from work and then I return to my design work with a fresh perspective. Having a baby has also made me much better at delegating. Before I used to handle every single aspect of a project myself and now I delegate a lot of the installing so I can focus on the design.
D: What was the catalyst/inspiration for working in bronze? Can you tell me a bit more about the pieces you create (namely the hardware and hairpins)?
S: I've created a line of decorative hardware called Makers Hardware. The inspiration came from when I used to refurbish and sell furniture back in LA. I was always on the lookout for cool decorative hardware to dress up my old and vintage finds. I wanted corner brackets that you could slap on to that old coffee table and bookshelf to give it a second life. I couldn't find anything interesting or unique on the market so I decided to create my own. The hairpins are a descendant of the furniture hardware. I used to design jewelry so I have a background in wax carving and casting and have always been fascinated by metals and the whole casting process.
D: I always love seeing your jewelry! Can you share a bit about some of your favorite pieces, and if any have special significance?
S: I love my wedding ring because of the obvious symbolism, but also because my husband and I picked it out together--its an antique Georgian table cut ring from the 1800's.
One of my most cherished pieces is my grandmother's wedding ring, which she gifted me when I turned 18. It's a thick flat solid gold band with these star etchings on it. She had to get it cut in order to remove it from her finger. I've thought about getting it soldered back together, but I think I want to keep it the way she gave it to me. She's since passed and I think about her every time I wear it.