Born in 1944 in the LA suburb of Torrance, an only child with many creative talents, David Ludwig discovered his creative gifts and began drawing and painting in elementary school. He enjoyed playing music from an early age and began studying the piano at age 8, clarinet at 12, and guitar 17. As an Eagle Scout, he followed his fascination with Native American culture through a branch of scouting called the Order of the Arrow, where he studied Native American dance and ceremony, and later at 17, he became proficient in contemporary social dancing. While a senior in high school, an intuitive art teacher pointed David in the direction of architecture as a career, and after that the four creative centers of architecture, art, music and dance have been his primary interests.
After attending junior and state collages, David moved to Berkeley in 1964 to attend Cal, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture 1968 (cum laude), and a Master of Architecture 1971. David married and had four daughters. Trained by his father as a carpenter during his teens, David worked his way through school designing and building small remodel projects in Berkeley, and after graduating he worked as a beginning designer for a few well-known local architectural firms. After several years of design apprenticeship, he opened his own firm named Dovetail Design and Construction where for the next seventeen years, he designed and built over a hundred fifteen residential and small commercial projects in the San Francisco Bay Area.
While developing his design/build business and professional career, David kept his interest in art alive by painting with watercolors and pastels, and by exploring photography. He kept his interest in dance and theater alive by taking ballet classes with his daughters at local dance schools: The Richmond Ballet and Berkeley Ballet Theater (BBT). In 1987 David was asked if he could help with the annual production of “The Nutcracker” by creating a special 21′ x 38′ stage backdrop for “The Land of Snow” on silk. This was his invitation and introduction to painting large format images on silk, and after inventing the tools and techniques necessary, he created four other stage backdrops drops for the school. David soon realized that he had found a unique and rewarding medium of artistic expression – no one else was painting theater-sized images on silk. David went on to become Chairman of the Board for BBT and to dance as Drosselmeier in the school’s version of “The Nutcracker” for ten years.
During an economic downturn David closed his design/build business in 1987 and went to work for Polsky Architects in Marin County. There, his architectural interest evolved into designing high-end custom homes, and over the next 17 years, he completed 70 residential and educational projects. He enjoyed working in a variety of styles, but preferred creating arts-and-crafts and lodge-style homes. His design skills blossomed from a unique aptitude for space planning, and he used his artistic skills to produce finely crafted hand drawings of his designs at a time when most architects were beginning the transition to CAD.
David evaluated his personal and creative goals in 1994, and reduced his commitment to practicing architecture to 3/4 time. He opened a small art business called Silk Spirit, and used his additional free time to develop his art; doing photography, creating silk theater backdrops, special silk fabrics for costumes, dance veils, shawls, and fine art watercolor and pastel drawings. His dance interest evolved from ballet, to studying jazz dance with David Jones at College of Marin, to studying folk dance with the Sacred Circle Dancers in Berkeley, and eventually to studying Middle Eastern culture, music and dance. During this period, David’s musical interests evolved to studying and performing on the ney or Middle-eastern reed-flute and the soprano saxophone.
In 2003 David met international music promoter Miles Copland (Sting’s manager) at a dance festival and was commissioned to produce his first digitally printed backdrops for an international dance troupe, The Bellydance Superstars. David’s digital drops began touring the world with this group and have been presented in many famous venues such as the Follies Bergere in Paris. In 2003 and 2004, David produced additional silk and digital drops for use in off-Broadway productions in NYC. He is currently renting his backdrops over the internet and enjoys sending them off for weekend use at Middle Eastern dance performances, church events and weddings.
In 2005, David left Polsky Architects and opened a solo architecture practice in San Anselmo, CA., where he did both residential remodel and new home projects for 5 years. His current design philosophy recalls the spatial and functional relationships of lodge home living and was featured in a Marin Magazine (a local housing magazine) in April of ‘06. His favorite architecture styles are lodge, arts and crafts, Mediterranean and a contemporary style called New Primitive. David has mastered the 3D CAD program ArchiCad, and now offers his clients the opportunity to move through and around their architectural dreams in full color 3D. Unlike the more common PC-based AutoCad program, this Mac-based program uses the 3D model as the core design element, and derives the more common 2D drawings from that model.
After seeing Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and second inspirational movie called “Ashes and Snow”, David made a personal commitment to Gandhi’s suggestion “We must BE the change we seek in the world”. He embraced the “not-so-big” design ideas of author Sarah Suzanka, as an opportunity to show his colleagues and clients how a personal commitment for helping preserve the environment could look. In 2007 he moved out of his rented house in Mill Valley and into a new solar-powered Airstream Trailer parked in a small trailer court in southern Marin. He set up a mobile office in the trailer and transitioned into a semi-nomadic lifestyle designing homes on his computer while in Marin or on the road.
David is currently living in his Airstream trailer and in 2010 he moved his office from San Anselmo to an art studio at the ICB in Sausalito. He converted the studio space to store his personal items, provide work space for painting silk, wall space to hang his art and a lounge for doing his computerized architectural design work. David was fortunate to have a local remodel project featured in the February 2010 issue of Architectural Digest. In the slow economy, David’s nomadic life style has provided affordable access to the variety and inspiration that has fueled his creative life.