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LA Label Chay's Downtown Studio is A Modern Boho Dream

Photos: Chay Studio
Photos: Chay Studio

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LA designer Chay Wike's namesake boutique on the sleepier stretch of West 3rd Street is a mini playground for minimalist-minded bohemians. Filled with her dreamy line of silk separates and breezy basics alongside sleek home decor and artisanal goods, the inspiring capsule of cool leaves shoppers craving more. Last month, the designer transformed her massive DTLA design loft into a by-appointment retail studio, where clients can experience Wike's aesthetic in a plebe-less, private setting.

Located just steps away from the sample sale-happy Cooper Design Space, the bright and white 4,000-square-foot loft serves as the designer's shoppable HQ and hangout. "I share the space with Lindon Schultz, an architect and collaborator," Wike tells us. In addition to offering the Chay spring/summer 2015 collection, the studio also stocks Wike's own range of linens and organic teas, plus her soon-to-launch fragrance line.

Below, get to know the actress-turned-designer (who just launched a new lifestyle blog, Butter), see inside the Scandinavian modern-inspired studio in the gallery above, and call (323) 938-1885 or shoot a note to info@chayonline.com to explore it for yourself.

Tell us more about your path from acting to designing.

I was an actress from the ages of 10 to 23. I did a few TV shows and some indie films that never made it past the editing shelf. I quit the biz because it didn't feel right and did a string of unrelated jobs in New York, such as wines sales rep, personal assistant, jewelry design assistant, and working with kids. Then I met my husband and moved to LA 10 years ago. We had two daughters and it was only then that I spent a lot of time at home and found myself inspired by my life more than any other time.

Being a mom, wife, homemaker, and cook really felt good to me and so my lifestyle became my inspiration. I love to design and problem solve; I love trying to make things work better. I also like a whole story. So I got a small studio out of the house and began designing and finding people to help me make things.

Clothing was first, then the store, a jewelry collaboration with Kathleen Whitaker, a creative relationship with Wendy Polish—the momentum naturally took on a life of its own. The more I worked, the more people I met that could help me make more things!

What inspired the apartment-like design and aesthetic of your shop?

My grand fantasy is to have a retail space that resembles a home so that each room can have the appropriate merchandise. The living room can have seating, the bedroom a bed and linens, a dressing room for clothing, and a kitchen for tables and provisions—a true living retail space. I like the idea of having a kitchen of sorts so I can host and make tea and create an intimate, cozy environment.

I was determined to have a small kitchen in the West 3rd Street shop and decided that the size of the store felt more like a small New York apartment. For me to feel at home, I need to know I can make tea and invite people in. That's part of the experience.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

I'm launching two fragrances this spring—I've been working on them for a year and a half. [I'm also launching] some smaller lifestyle pieces, [and] I'm also planning to open another store this year. [Linda Shultz and I] are working on some new pieces together like a platform that doubles as a coffee table or a bed base.

Tell us more about your new blog.

I launched my blog BUTTER last fall. I have a series that I shoot on it called Kitchen Visits; It's really fun and intimate. We visit the home kitchens of all sorts of folks and have them cook their favorite food. I've shot some cool people and have a few more airing this season. We have Annie Campbell, Kirsty Hume, Amanda Chantal Bacon, Frank Prisinzano, and Ali Cayne. I went to NY to shoot some of it too. Cooking is a huge part of my life and this blog was a great way to bring food into the project without having to open a restaurant!

This post has been updated since it was originally published.