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Meet Shannon Ggem of Ggem Design in Malibu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon Ggem.

Shannon, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am so lucky, I came to Interior Design from the construction site. I supervised large remodels and became knowledgeable about the critical path and sequencing that way. I saw clients suffering (and making bad decisions) because of the timing stress. A tile contractor would tell them on their way out the door to work that they needed the tile selection that day. So of course, the clients would run to the big box store and buy whatever was in stock.

It made me realize what a full team looks like for a remodel, and the important role interior designers have in making sure that all the labor clients are paying for doesn’t go to waste with hideous, thoughtless finishes and layouts that don’t even serve them. So I got educated, then took on a few jobs in the Interior Design and it’s chugged along from there.

Has it been a smooth road?
Interior Design is like ballet, the better you get, the more difficult it becomes. Your taste becomes more and more discerning, your eye becomes more and more trained, your expectations are set by the last best experience you had with craftspeople.

The challenges evolve, right? Right now it’s separating the client’s true taste from trend influence. With all the channels and advertising everywhere that tyrannical, ubiquitous mall store influence that we are all hammered with constantly is really doing a number on everyone. It’s my job to help clients go deeper than the big trends of the moment and see what really drives the desire to remodel or build to create a classic, thoughtful spaces!

Separating taste from trend makes the job much harder- I could just cave and go buy everything at the mall stores, but ugh, I don’t think that’s service to those who choose me. I find a lot of the answers in the client’s connection to the architecture, topography, context and landscape, so I steer everyone toward a proper team. All roles are essential!

To do my part, I’m offering more custom pieces and honing my sources to craftspeople to make sure clients are buying quality in a world full of disposable filler. It’s a lot more work to be discerning.

Patience is also a challenge. I am super results driven, so as the projects have become larger, their timelines have grown. This leads to me generating a ton of lists and diagrams and detailing down to the tablescapes in advance of huge installs.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Ggem Design Co story. Tell us more about the business.
Ggem Design Co, LLC is a full-service Interior Design firm specializing in whole home remodel and full furnish projects. I work all over the US, but Los Angeles is home, and historic properties are a favorite.

I am so proud to have won the BUILD magazine Adaptive Reuse award for one of the oldest structures in Los Angeles with our project partner Mystic Water Gardens and Pasadena Showcase House. It was also an honor to design a suite for Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House through ASID, and I was also psyched to be selected to serve Los Angeles City Parks and Recreation to help revitalize the Wattles Mansion in Hollywood. I love offering volunteerism in my own community, it’s historic, Malibou Lake Mountain Club.

I love working with clients, architects, client reps, general contractors and key subcontractors. Life happens in these homes, and using every available tool, skill set and a brilliant, experienced mind to put the puzzle together is the incredible honor and fun.

Service is fee-based, contract-driven and billing are transparent.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
Yay! So many people help me continually! I have an ever-growing list of incredible teammates and supporters to include. Andrew Ggem, my husband, helped me integrate systems with sequencing and practical needs of top-tier generals, to better serve larger projects efficiently. And a million other things, but I’ll stick to the business stuff I guess…

My clients are the best, the GCs and the architects are the best! One of my early clients is Jeremy Kasten, he runs the Dear Old Farm and was a film director back when we started, he has fascinating collections and his early trust and willingness to have press come through helped me launch and keep working. Mystic Water Gardens brought me on for the Pasadena Showcase, that couldn’t have been more fun, Jennifer Maxcy of The Ranch Uncommon helps me stay art-y when the business side is trying to take over. Clif Schmidt of Designer’s Axess in Westlake Village is a valuable resource. I have a rep that is so helpful for custom work of all kinds, Kim Lamonte.

There’s an online group, Interior Design Community run by Laurie Laizure, and all those designers who are active on there is a HUGE help. Portland’s Angela Todd is always lending me a hand. And Rebecca Bernard is the best and is always ready to step up with her impeccable taste and ever-expanding skill set. And here’s a list: Kim Kuhteubl, Julia Molloy, Veronika Eagleson, Natalie Norcross, David Shepherd; they are industry advocates helping designers serve clients better, helping us interface with the vendors better, driving ethics better, that’s the art and integrity piece- they’re out there bolstering us as we create meaningful spaces for life overall, and that’s very meaningful.

Pricing:

  • Remodels from +/- $350 per square foot
  • New builds +/- $450 per square foot

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Joe Atlas, Pete McMinnimon, Mike P Kelley

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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