Sophia Moreno-Bunge is a tamer of wild things. As the owner of L.A. floral design studio ISA ISA, Moreno-Bunge creates arrangements out of seemingly incongruous materials. Green papyrus, summer grass, dates and dried cucumber: her designs successfully employ an array of unexpected flora. In Moreno-Bunge’s capable hands, even bent and withered stalks of corn become a thing of beauty.
ISA ISA opened its doors in 2015, after Moreno-Bunge moved back to Los Angeles from New York. The work she does is a reflection of the place she inhabits. The materials Moreno-Bunge uses are often foraged and found, giving her arrangements the appearance of something swept ashore or sprouting from the earth on its own accord. Never pretty for pretty’s sake, there is an intelligence to her combinations that attracts a specific type of clientele. Her work feels less like a collection of conventionally attractive buds and blooms, and more like physical metaphors—symbolic stand-ins for the season at hand.
In the four short years since Moreno-Bunge launched the studio, ISA ISA has become a go-to for L.A. It Brands like Shaina Mote and Eckhaus Latta. Earlier this spring, she was anointed by Vogue as a creative of note on the L.A. design scene. Below, SIXTY caught up with Moreno-Bunge to talk coastal landscapes, eastside canyons, and Naked Lady lilies.
Place or origin:
Los Angeles and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Favorite street or pathway in Los Angeles:
In the hills of Elyria Canyon!
Landscape you feel most at home in:
I love farmland on the coast. I’m a real beach and ocean person. I could swim all day, but especially when the water is surrounded by beautiful farmland, like in parts of Uruguay, where I go each year with my family, or the Mediterranean.
Ceramicist/vase designer you’re currently into:
I’m loving ceramics by my friends Kate Rosenberg and Aviva Rowley, and I’m currently on the lookout for new designers. Also: weird vintage vessels are always so special.
Three things you always consider when designing:
The space and location, as well as the history of what I’m designing for—how that plays into my ideals for my work, and the mood or story I want to convey.
A recently discovered unexpected pairing:
Hmm. Dry grasses and passion vine was a recent one. Or dry grasses and anything bright or neon-colored, like gloriosa lilies, which are always spectacular, or Naked Lady lilies.
Color you’re most drawn to at the moment:
Teal and lavender.
Flower/material you’re currently fond of:
Chestnuts on the branch and pastel orchids of all sorts.
Flower that deserves more attention:
Anything weird and not flowery. Pods and beans. Pink castor, which I never get in L.A., sadly.
Location you were most recently charmed by:
Lisbon and the Algarve coast of Portugal. I fell in love with this country. I hope to live there at some point, or at least visit again. There’s a lot of new art happening; queer spaces and community, which are so important to me; interesting people from all over; waves to surf! I saw a group show in Lisbon at the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology of up-and-coming Portuguese artists and was blown away by one of the video installations by Diana Policarpo. Felt so timely and necessary.
What book/ film/ work of art most recently captured your attention and why?
This particular installation by Diana Policarpo was amazing. It touched on themes that I am very interested in right now: identity, gender, bodies and trauma, movement, mythology. You entered a dark room, fully carpeted with a few little mounds (also carpeted), and a video of an amorphous blob playing on two screens. A voice spoke and told a story which was somewhat abstract, but left room for me to imagine and relate. The space was not particularly beautiful but the elements—the mounds, the darkness, the video—inspired me and the other person I was with to lie down and stretch our bodies, becoming very present, and listen to this very intriguing abstract story. I like art that inspires you to move your body.
You’re planning your own party. Where is it, who is there, and what does the table look like?
Friends and an abundant table of seafood. Somewhere in nature, near the ocean. A bonfire. Music.