Born in Tehran, Pamela Shamshiri moved to Los Angeles with her family in the wake of Iran’s revolution at the age of nine. Pamela and her brother and business partner, Ramin, spent much of their childhood playing on the various floors of their father’s furniture showroom; watching each room transformed by new arrangements of furniture and décor, Shamshiri learned the importance of storytelling through thoughtful, yet livable design. Her studies led her to the East Coast where she earned her degree from Smith College in art history and architecture, later she attended NYU where she earned her master’s in production design for film. Pamela returned to the West Coast in ’98, where she, her brother and two friends co-founded the award-winning multidisciplinary firm, Commune in 2004; toward the end of Shamshiri’s Commune tenure, the firm was awarded the prestigious Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Interior Design. In 2016, Pamela and her brother Ramin moved on from Commune to start Studio Shamshiri. Now, Studio Shamshiri calls a historic building in Hollywood home, and has become most recognizable for Shamshiri’s holistic approach to design; placing an emphasis on the importance of creating one cohesive space that is a composed harmony of Architecture and Interior Design informed by the building’s past, present, and future. Since its founding in 2016, Studio Shamshiri has been featured in Architectural Digest, ELLE Décor, VOGUE Living, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, The World of Interiors and is consistently included in the American, French, and German editions of Architectural Digest’s AD100 list.
We visited Pamela at Studio Shamshiri just before Christmas.
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Pamela Shamshiri photographed at Studio Shamshiri wears a Bless blazer, a funnel neck sweater from VINCE, the HEMISPHERE BANGLE, RIBBON CHAIN I, and KABAH RING II.
Where are you from?
Los Angeles via Tehran, Iran – with spurts of time in Rome!
Rome is one of my favorite cities. Where do you live now and what do you like most about it?
Los Angeles. I love that there is so much nature close by, I hike and walk with my boys in our neighborhood often.
What was it like coming from Iran to LA?
It was an overwhelming change. My dad remained in Iran and my mother brought my brother and me to start a life here in LA. It was confusing and challenging, but our parents were determined to give us a solid foundation, and above all, an American education.
Pam wears a navy jumpsuit from ALEX MILL, and DOUBLE ROCK BANGLE, ROCK I PENDANT, and ABANICO RINGS I, II, and III.
What was your professional journey and how do you like working with your brother?
I studied Art History and Architecture in undergrad and got my master’s in Production Design from NYU. It was there that we learned to do set design for Period films. Ever since then, whether it’s an event, a commercial, a film, a store or a residential restoration, I treat it as a design exercise based around a narrative or an experience. Our studio is multidisciplinary, and we will use any tools we need to tell our stories. I have an ambitious, engaged relationship with my brother; we have different approaches at times, but I think that’s what makes for a strong team.
Definitely. What do you like most about your work?
I like that I always have to research and learn something new for every project! Our process is the same but the ingredients – history, materials, environment – are always different and so there is a lot to learn and discover. It makes it endlessly fascinating, and you feel like you’re growing every day.
The team's swatch and texture palette boxes, custom made for the studio.
When did you open this studio, who was the architect?
Our studio in Hollywood opened in 2018 after a two-year renovation/restoration. We were the architects! The building was first owned by a Hollywood stuntman and his wife who was a screenwriter – they built it in 1920; it was the set for Casablanca – some of the arches outside were shot as Ray’s bar.
Wow! I love how there is always a great story behind old Hollywood buildings. Does your background influence your design aesthetic?
Absolutely, living between two ancient cities where the old and the new coexist side by side absolutely influences my design decisions.
"I like the wisdom of the old and the innovation of the new and the harmony of them sitting side by side."
A SERGE MOUILLE LAMP (similar version), a vintage TUAREG RUG , and the KHADIJA , sit atop a beautiful blue salvaged wood table from Dutch designer PIET HEIN EEK and CHARLES EAMES BIKINI CHAIRS pictured. Shop the exact and similar items below.
Do you have a favorite style of furniture or furniture designer?
I am a sucker for 1960's Italian! I grew up with it, I think it’s my dad’s influence. It’s not exclusive to just one designer.
I especially love the blue table in your office, can you please tell me more about it?
Piet Hein Eek who was an early proponent of reuse. I love that it’s carefully crafted from pieces of reused wood under a heavy layer of Dutch Lacquer – I’ve been buying his work for ten years, I’m a big fan.
Pam at her desk in her office wearing a VINCE SHIRT DRESS and BOTTEGA VENETA shoes, with the ROUNDED CHOKER, HEMISPHERE BANGLE, and NAKED CUFF IV. Here is a similar style for the NOGUCHI LAMP, and an EAMES TASK ARMCHAIR.
And now I am too. What are some of your favorite furnishing shops here in Los Angeles?
JF Chen, The Window, Galerie Half, Blackman Cruz, Sumner, and Not for Sale; there’s so many good ones in LA! I love collectors with a unique point of view.
Pam's office. The deskchairs are italian from the 70s. A TUAREG RUG and KHADIJA bag are pictured.
Who are some of your favorite interior designers and their books?
I love Steven Volpe’s new book Rooms that I got this year. I keep Ilse Crawford’s A Frame for Life nearby. Vincent Van Duysen Works 2009-2018. This year was a big year for painting books for me, I bought many focused on German Expressionism. I try to look at things that are not top of mind for others, I tend to dive deep into vintage and archival books for inspiration.
Pam in the studio's kitchen wears a blouse and skirt from GABRIELA HEARST and shoes from BOTTEGA VENETA . The extra long kitchen table is by John Williams, a similar one HERE. The chairs are THONET.
What are your favorite places that you have travelled to and where do you want to go next?
I recently came back from a sound meditation/safari in Kenya, I want to spend more time in nature. I would love to go to see the monasteries in Bhutan next!
What is your favorite architectural/design hotel?
I think this is the answer for many people, but I want to see the Ett Hem in person. It’s a thirteen room hotel in Sweden that Ilse Crawford designed. I love the way she writes and talks about human scale and how it promotes more meaningful interactions.
Pam at the studio's kitchen window, wears a GABRIELLA HEARST skirt and blouse, the KOUTOUBIA II HOOPS and the ROUNDED RING CHAIN.
What inspires you?
My two sons and travel.
More balance, another book, more time outdoors, and a villa in Italy.
Pam at her moodboard wears a VINCE SWEATER and SILK PAJAMA PANTS, along with the HEMISPHERE BANGLE, RIBBON CHAIN I, and KASBAH RING II.
What is your biggest luxury?
My new Drinkstation water machine! I tell everyone it’s incredible to have wonderful tasting water + sparkling water and avoid the use of disposable bottles of any kind.
"Work hard, but balance with plenty of good play."
Pamela wears a white sweater from VINCE, the CHERIFA RING, IMAAN II CUFF, GUADIX III, ROUNDED HOOPS, and the TOGGLE I CHAIN NECKLACE.
What’s up next for you?
Well, my New Year’s resolution is to find more balance and to surround myself with love. And there’s always good projects in the works!
Pam wears a blue fringed v-neck cashmere sweater from VINCE, the AEONIUM CHARM RING, OBLIQUE POSTS, THIN ROUNDED HOOPS and the ROUNDED HOOPS.
Female hero and why?
Franca Sozzani, she was such a boundless and fearless creative. She inspires me to be unapologetically creative, and unapologetically myself every day.
When do you feel your best?
Early mornings after meditation and during travel; I think I’m the most fun when I travel!
UPSIDE DOWN CHAIRS by Sam Durant
Your skin is so beautiful, what is your skincare regime?
My skincare regime is all about keeping it simple. That said, I’m never without a Vitamin C serum and sunscreen. I no longer do monthly facials, I just invest in one medical facial – the Clear and Brilliant by Dr. Rhand, I live and die by it!
Pendant light sculpture by Rogan Gregory here is a similar VERSION. Pam wears a knit dress by VINCE, the ROUNDED CHOKER and TOGGLE I CHAIN NECKLACE, ROUNDED III HOOPS and MOUNIA and CRESTA II RING. Shoes from BOTTEGA VENETA
Do you like bold or delicate jewelry?
I like bold jewelry. I love layers of it. I am loving my Kendall Conrad Thick Rounded Hoops and how they layer with my other earrings.
Which piece/pieces from the new collection do you want the most?
I like my jewelry to feel protective, I am especially loving the Cherifa Ring – it feels like I have a shield on. Kendall's jewelry is timeless and layers so beautifully.