Re-designed By Studio Shamshiri


The Iconic Mid-century Quincy Jones' Smalley House

After a fortuitous meeting facilitated by the creative Michael Reynolds, gallery owner Shulamit Nazarian discovered a remarkable connection with AD100 designer Pamela Shamshiri. Both women, independent and of Persian descent, shared a parallel journey as immigrants from Iran to Los Angeles following the Islamic Revolution. Serendipitously, they each owned architecturally significant homes designed by pioneering architects of the Southern California modernist movement.

Pamela Shamshiri resided in Rudolph Schindler`s renowned 1948 Lechner House, while Shulamit Nazarian`s residence was the A. Quincy Jones-designed Smalley House (1969–73) in Holmby Hills, hailed as one of the architect`s most notable creations. According to Nazarian, in an interview with Architectural Digest magazine, their connection deepened due to shared transitional moments in their lives, fostering a profound emotional bond. Given Nazarian`s commitment to supporting Middle Eastern women and culture through her gallery, this partnership held particular significance.

Renovating a significant midcentury home to suit contemporary lifestyles presents a formidable challenge. It requires a nuanced understanding and reverence for the space`s historical significance while seamlessly integrating modern expressions. Thus, it was only after a decade of inhabiting the house that Shulamit Nazarian resolved to embark on this transformative journey, ensuring a harmonious fusion of past and present.

The designer Pamella Shamshiri describes the project as a soft, feminine counterpoint to the sharp modernist planes.

Understanding the living architecture of her home, Shulamit recognized the importance of maintaining its relevance to her current lifestyle. Thus, during the renovation, they carefully preserved A. Quincy Jones` design language, enhancing the power and significance of its architecture. The original 7,500-square-foot layout included a kitchen, children`s bedrooms, a master bedroom suite, and both sunken and elevated living rooms, defined by a striking rough-sawn cedar wall that seamlessly extended into the garden. Jones` signature dynamic connection between interior and exterior spaces was a key feature. The most notable change occurred in Shulamit`s bedroom, formerly a children`s area, now transformed to include a home office, allowing the gallerist to work from the comfort of her home. "The progression through the house feels natural and easy," Shamshiri shares with Architectural Digest magazine, reflecting on the reorganized floor plan. Additionally, a spa area was created, featuring a clay sauna, an organically designed bench, and a hot tub adorned with stones and concrete in harmonious tones. 


The kitchen posed a significant challenge, with its rigid cabinets and walnut doors. However, designer Pamela Shamshiri overcame this obstacle, ultimately achieving a satisfying result. The new space seamlessly connects the more formal areas of the house with the family spaces, exuding beauty, generosity, and warmth.

Voluminous shapes and bold lines define the interior, showcasing furnishings by esteemed and timeless designers like Pierre Paulin, Milo Baughman, and Paul Frankl. Designer Pamela Shamshiri characterizes the project as a soft, feminine counterpoint to the sharp modernist planes. The mid-century architecture of the house radiates its inherent beauty. However, the most daunting aspect of the process was addressing the imposing spinal wall. After deliberating various ideas, Shamshiri and Shulamit Nazarian arrived at a solution that honors the integrity of both architecture and art.


Undoubtedly, this house epitomizes a fusion of past, present, and future—an emblem of every exceptional architectural element.


Credit Architectural Digest

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