Sonia Boyajian is an unusual breed of artisan. An unapologetic maximalist, she’s long favored statement jewelry and expressive hand-craftsmanship that’s elusive in the category. So as the pendulum swings back in the favor of bold baubles, as seen on the Spring ’20 runways of Gucci, Brandon Maxwell, and Ulla Johnson, among others, it seems apt that Boyajian is unveiling a Los Angeles flagship. Tucked away on La Brea Avenue, the unadorned storefront belies the compelling artistry happening within its four walls—a window into the fantastical world that Boyajian has created.
When Boyajian began outgrowing her former Hollywood workspace, and decided it was time for a retail venture of her own, she turned to longtime friend Pamela Shamshiri of Studio Shamshiri, whose notable work with designers includes Irene Neuwirth’s Melrose Place jewel box. Boyajian and Shamshiri took cues from Georgia O’Keeffe’s Santa Fe studio (with subtle nods to Donald Judd), replicating the colors, textures, and angles, sometimes to exacting detail. The six month project was truly collaborative. “The storyboard they presented to me was my jewelry as fixtures and reimagined as elements throughout the space: door knobs, sconces, pendants. They wanted to use it all,” Boyajian says. “They added such a sense of refinement to my kookiness.”
The cavernous space, which spans over 5,000 square feet, features ample showroom and studio space in which Boyajian can both work and entertain. Awash in soothing blush tones, the front room boasts sky high ceilings from which a custom-made Calder-like mobile and one-of-a-kind light fixtures and pendants hang, all of which were created by Boyajian to mimic some of her more elaborate designs. Jewelry is carefully merchandised in cubby holes dotting the walls above custom built-ins and seating that mimic O’Keeffe’s own studio benches, down to the fabric. Boyajian even made the ceramic and white porcelain trays, animal figurines, and ring holders that accessorize the space and bring an intimate feel to the oversized setting.
The square footage of the studio has afforded Boyajian the luxury of bringing every last step of her creative process under one roof. Downstairs, at the far end of the space sits her ceramic studio with two kilns, where all of her pieces get shaped, baked, and glazed by hand. They then travel up a curving flight of stairs to her lofted workspace, which is broken out into equal parts work stations and archival display. The small room where she welds, carves, and assembles the individual parts she’s created sits just across from the room that now houses her expansive 18-year archive.
“When I shop for something I want to know who made it, how it’s made, and where it’s made,” she says. “So I think it’s important that my customer sees that we’re making it right in back and upstairs, and that my customers can come into the ceramic studio.”
The Sonia Boyajian store is located at 357 N La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, California.