F5: Jen Samson Treasures the Old, the Well-Made + the Unexpected
Jen Samson is the founder and principal designer of Laguna, California-based design firm Jen Samson Design. Her creative style often results in unexpected design elements that highlight intrigue and self-expression through combined styles. JSD’s spaces are sophisticated but relaxed, playful, and always unique. A lot of inspiration for her “curated creative abandon” comes from world travel, culture, fashion, and interiors both new and old.
The interior designer keeps filing away ideas as she travels with her family. “Traveling is basically the only thing that forces me to truly disconnect from day to day work,” Jen admits. “My husband and I have definitely passed along the travel bug to our two adventurous teenage daughters. We love to take a deep dive into other cultures, traditions, and experiences. We’ve taken our girls to Thailand, (visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket), explored Peru (Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and climbed Machu Picchu), and spent time in Costa Rica and Panama in recent years and we’re headed to Spain as a family this summer. We love to explore art and architecture, and the whole family loves vintage/thrift and antique shopping, so that is always a must as well. These vacations allow me to check out from the day to day of the studio, shift my focus solely to my family, and fill up on inspiration for when I return!”
Before starting JSD, Jen began her career in the fashion and lifestyle industries of Los Angeles. While her passion for all things visually inspiring and her eye for style grew, she helped to create lifestyle driven programming for E! and the Style Network. Jen’s next step was working for renowned luxury fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo as the Director of West Coast public relations. One last project before she jumped into interior design was a successful artisan-crafted, hand-crocheted shoe brand – Painted Bird. The footwear was designed by Jen and handmade in a small village outside of Pondicherry, India.
You get an even greater sense of Jen’s passion and love of all things design after hearing about a collection of rings that belonged to her grandmother. “They are definitely my most treasured possession. We had a very intimate and special bond – I was the oldest of six granddaughters, and we shared a deep connection throughout her life. I was the only granddaughter that had a true affinity for “old” things, so over the years she gifted me a variety of things, from china and coats to handbags and jewelry. When she got much older, she gave me a few rings that I had always admired and borrowed. Whenever I wear the rings, I see her hands so clearly. It is an extraordinary gift.”
This week, Jen Samson is joining us for Friday Five!
My favorite coats EVER! The craftsmanship of each of their pieces is bar-none. The fit and the the details of these Italian-made garments coupled with the ability to add to, switch out, and reverse pieces to change the look and feel makes Marfa Stance truly original. As an interior designer who prides myself on being unique and rarely, if ever, repeating aspects of my design, I truly admire and respect the originality and the quality of their pieces.
2. Korean Spa
It’s like the ultimate car wash for your body and all of the relaxing and re-invigorating one could possibly want. My favorite one is ISPA in Irvine, California. I usually start in the salt room and make my way through a few other favorites, including the forest and ice rooms, before heading to the wet side of the spa. Cold plunge, sauna, steam, and jacuzzi… and that is all before your number is called for the deepest body scrub down and massage. I’m talking total heaven, and when I leave it’s as if my skin has returned to the most incredible baby soft state, and all is good in the world.
Just because I love a bold lip! I also love all natural, beautiful makeup (and the packaging!!). All of Gucci Westman’s products are amazing. The Lip Suede is as bright or sultry as you want it to be – and I love that I can mix the colors to create my own perfect shade for whatever mood i’m in.
I am always collecting pottery for future projects and installations. I can’t seem to get enough of classic mid century studio pottery and Japanese ikebana vessels from the 60’s. I am also a huge fan of a handful of incredibly talented Los Angeles artisans creating moderns works. Two of my faves that I love to source from for clients are Bari Zipperstein (Zippy) BZippy and Heather Rosenmann. Both take a very nontraditional approach to their work, creating pieces that always bring a sense of modernism and an immense amount of creativity to what they make. Plus, both of these women are just plain cool.
Neeru Kumar’s textiles are beautiful, textural weaves using all-natural fibers. Her fabrics are relaxed and incredibly elegant at the same time, all hand loomed weaves that work beautifully as window coverings, pillows, and blankets. All of her patterns have a very organic feel to them and the natural vegetable dyes are to die for. Kumar’s handwoven textiles have been called “Antiques of the Future,” a design sensibility that is very much up my ally. We are currently using her fabrics in custom pillows, soft roman shades, and as bed blankets – a personal fave!