Sophia Moreno-Bunge sees endless possibilities in her external environment, foraging for palms, dates, corals and seaweed to bring her floristry to life. Based in Santa Monica, California, Sophia creates effervescent and beautifully sculptured floral arrangements. To simply call her a florist seems too narrow a definition; her artistry is unparalleled and it is this that has made her floral business Isa Isa, such a success. Through Sophia’s arrangements a narrative unfolds, incorporating seasonality and dimensions, her work transports you to the unexplored wilderness. We sat down with Sophia to discuss how it all started, her creative process and the incredible people who have inspired her and supported her.
Meet the artist in bloom.
You are such an incredible florist, how did you discover this passion and how did you turn it into a career in floristry?
I was living in Brooklyn, New York when I discovered Floristry as a "profession. " I came across the iconic Saipua flower studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn and was completely enamoured. I loved their approach and became so intrigued. There was also a skateboard/flower shop in my neighbourhood that was so charming; my partner at the time was a professional skateboarder and we would always stop by the shop since she was a friend of the owner - It felt like the world was bringing me closer to this creative pursuit. I read an article in the New York Times about Emily Thompson- a sculptor turned florist- and was so drawn to her aesthetic and ethos, so I reached out to her and ended up working for her for almost 3 years. I found a beautiful creative home with the Emily Thompson team; Emily really knows how to draw interesting artists into her orb and it was such an amazing place to learn and be mentored. I am so grateful for my time with her. During my time at ETF, I also wrote and photographed for Gardenista- an online sourcebook all about plants, gardens, design and florals, and eventually moved to Los Angeles where I am from; here I slowly started to do my own work, while I freelanced with Moon Canyon, another wonderful florist in LA.
We know you are based in LA, here in Australia though, we are going into spring - a time for change and blooming flowers. What are your absolute favourite spring flowers?
So many! I love magnolia's, foxglove, wild roses, nasturtium blooms and leaves, matilija poppies, iris to name a few.
Floristry is an incredibly creative industry, walk us through your creative process.
My process is pretty intuitive at this point, but I am heavily inspired by the different materials that grow each season and by the landscapes around me. I am very inspired by the palettes I find by the sea, in my home in Santa Monica- dusty greyish greens found on palm trees, palm inflorescences and dates and the pastel sunset tones- from lavender to golden rust, found in corals and seaweeds along the beach. I am inspired by art, travels, the spaces we create in. The process always varies, but I try to remain present and curious so that I can be open to the inspiration that is around me.
There is a saying that ‘you are who you surround yourself by’ and that it is scientifically proven that you become the average of the five people you spend most of your time with – this is fascinating. Tell us about the people who have inspired you, guided you and supported you throughout your career.
There have been many people along my journey- Emily Thompson, my mentor, Kristen of Moon Canyon. My close friends- some of whom I have known since growing up, some from college and some from my later adult life. My Artist's Way book club friends- whom I spent an entire year with, going through the Artist's Way. The people that work with me now at ISA ISA. Lastly, Kelly Wearstler- a well known interior designer here in LA, with whom I have had the joy of working closely with for the last 3 years, has been a big inspiration and supporter of our work. She has such a playful and impactful design sensibility and has given us so many opportunities to explore in our work- it's a true pleasure to work with her.
At Auguste, we have created a space where women support women, which is something we are really proud of. We are big believers that there is something very powerful about the bond between women, the sisterhood that we can form with one another. Who is someone in your life, a sister that has helped you get through some tough times? Tell us a bit about your friendship.
I can't choose just one among my few closest friends; I have a handful of best friends that are really what life is about for me. We travel together, from Portugal to Italy, to Israel; surfing, exploring, "artist-residencing" and adventuring. We support each other, go through ups and downs, and create together. They are artists, writers, business owners, and their friendships give me life. Carving out time for me to spend intentional time with friends, doing what we love is so important. I try to do at least one or two "friend-trips" per year to maintain our curiosity and connection even though we don't all live in the same place.