Designer Sophie Buhai heralds her return to California with a pair of art-forward new businesses.
A phenomenon often occurs when a certain type of woman turns 30 years old: Her lifelong obsession with clothing is offset by a domestic impulse—the urge to decorate, entertain and nest. Case in point is Sophie Buhai, the co-founder of the well-respected New York-based fashion line Vena Cava (which she and her partner, Lisa Mayock, quietly shuttered in 2013), who this season is simultaneously launching high-concept jewelry and interiors projects.
“I knew Vena Cava was ending and I was going through a moment of trying to figure out what I wanted to do and what I wanted my life to look like. It felt like being a teenager and trying to find out who I was again,” says Buhai, now 33. Her first step was to move back to L.A.—the Hancock Park native found a 1930s Spanish-style house in Silver Lake and soon after, her long-distance lawyer beau, Josh Sussman, made the romantic gesture to join her on the West Coast. (The couple married last summer in Buhai’s parents’ backyard.)
Upon her return, Buhai was living her version of the 30-something dream—decorating her new home, taking art classes at Barnsdall Art Park, attending an artist’s residency at Tuscany’s Villa Lena, and experimenting with form. “I converted the bottom floor of my house into a studio and started drawing and making sculptures and jewelry. I was trying to work through stuff to see if anything was sticking,” she says. The result was twofold: an online gallery for her bold, sculptural sterling-silver jewelry collection and a curated selection of home objects (both found and fabricated) that combine to reflect Buhai’s new phase in life. “It’s not about having a lot of things, but the right things that feel really special.” Items featured on the site range from an in-house ebony Ikebana vase to the modern Mapplethorpe cuff—perhaps the most special is a $28,000 bronze sculpture by Harold Ambellan.
Buhai also takes on one to two interior design projects a year (she’s currently working on gallerist Hannah Hoffman’s Silver Lake home) while she tends to her retail business, which is already in specialty shops including The Line, Jenni Kayne and Maryam Nassir Zadeh. Her homes, like the objects, are a mix of Japanese wabi-sabi with European sophistication (Axel Vervoordt is an inspiration) and a healthy dose of California casual. Favorite sources range from 1stdibs and eBay, JF Chen and the flea markets to dealers like Patrick Parrish in New York. She’s also meeting local craftsmen to bring her sketches to life: “There’s so much to be discovered in L.A. That’s what I love about this project.” sophiebuhai.com.
Edited by Kelsey McKinnon.