Sophie Buhai’s dreamy California aesthetic gives off the sort of irresistible vibe that makes even staunch New Yorkers consider heading West. After numerous years in New York herself, Buhai is thrilled to have settled back in her native Los Angeles, where she seems right at home. Formerly co-founder of ready-to-wear collection Vena Cava, she has moved into the realm of jewelry and interiors. Her recently launched namesake e-commerce site is now open for business.
Entering her Spanish-style Silverlake bungalow, which dates back to the 1930s, is both a visual treat and a mental escape. Buhai’s jewelry collection feels like a natural extension of her overall aesthetic. The beautifully crafted sculptural sterling silver and bold wooden designs are all handmade in Los Angeles with the utmost attention to quality and detail.
On a crystal clear L.A. afternoon, we stopped by the designer’s enviable home to survey the jewelry and talk inspiration, lifestyle and “Sophisticated Primitivism.” -Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set
“I have been designing jewelry for about a year. Before that I had a clothing collection called Vena Cava that I did for 10 years with my partner Lisa Mayock in NYC. The collection is all sterling silver with some wood pieces. I am interested in making classic sculptural silver jewelry, that one can own forever.
The egg pendant has become a sort of hallmark for the collection. I wear that piece almost everyday, it somehow completes every outfit from a t-shirt and jeans, to a black sheath. I also the the Mapplethorpe cuff, the design feels simple, but at the same time it’s very strong and sculptural.
I am lucky to have a small team of amazing artisans I work with. They all have many years of expertise, and have helped me to execute my sketches with great care. It takes us months to get one sample perfect. We spent 8 months working on the first collection. The pieces look simple but they are far from it! Each piece takes about two hours to finish after it’s been cast. With the wood pieces, I always have an idea in mind of the texture, shade, and grain I want…but then it’s all about talking to my amazing woodworker to see what will best work with the design. He has introduced me to some amazing exotic woods. We have one ring that is made of “Hollywood”, from the Hollywood trees that fills L.A. It looks like ivory – but of course is much better for the environment.
I’m sort of in love with Los Angeles. I love the lifestyle of course. People work from home, there is less of a line between work and life…it all sort of blends together here. I also love the wild vegetation, the architecture – the deco, the Schindler’s, the Neutra’s, the plants, all the eccentric old actresses with weird style. There is an earthy quality to L.A. but also a drama and a tackyness…I love the mix.
I don’t really think much about how to describe my overall style and aesthetic. I guess I would say I’m attracted to a combination of both very primitive things as well as very modern clean lines. Linda Fargo once called the collection “Sophisticated Primitivism” and I just loved that! I like spaces that feel calming, spare and sort of zen, but with warm objects that have a slightly eccentric flavor. To me, the jewelry and the interiors are the same, they all live in the same world.
It’s been wonderful so far owning my own business. I work form home, with some really lovely and talented people. I’m lucky to work with my friend (and muse!) Kayten Schmidt, the artist who is the eye behind our photographic imagery. Right now it’s all about taking things slow and enjoying the work. Making sure the quality is perfect, and the designs hold up. We have some exciting things on the horizon, everyday is different and that’s what’s great.” –Sophie Buhai
Photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set