At Home With Emily L'Ami of Bodha
Tucked in behind the bustle of Melrose, New Zealanders Emily L'Ami and her husband, designer Fred L'Ami, have created a peaceful little nest for themselves in the city of Los Angeles that welcomes in that warm Californian light just after 4pm. Other than the accents of objects and artworks from their friends back home, their apartment is stripped back to the most important of piece — a mixture of their absolute favourites and what is needed for absolute function.
Emily, in the midst of a perfumery course and filled with excitement towards natural fragrance and oils, is as much about botanical scents as she is about their healing properties. We talk through some of her newest developments for Bodha and the importance of a daily ritual...
— As an creator of objects that encourage time, space, sense awakening rituals, we'd love to hear about some of your own personal rituals you enjoy.
I think there's a deep, almost primal need for ritual in our lives, they’re like little touchstones amidst the chaos of everyday life. I like to open and close my day with simple rituals. In the morning I have a glass of warm water with cider vinegar, light a stick of incense and meditate for twenty minutes. And to close off my work-day I tidy my desk, make a pot of herbal tea, have a spoonful of prash, light a stick of incense and meditate again. These little rituals book-end my day and help me to feel calm and grounded no matter what’s gone on in-between. I also have a Sunday self-care ritual where I go into the bathroom and just close off from the world for an hour. I light our diffuser with calming oils, body brush, put on a herbal face mask and jump into a hot bath with piles of Epsom salts. While I’m in the bath I focus on of all the great things from the previous week and what I want to bring to life in the next.
— Can you tell us about some of the process involved in your collaboration pieces, such as the Oil Diffuser?
I grew up using oil diffusers and dreamt of creating one so beautiful it would inspire people to bring the power of natural scent into their lives. After following the career of product designer Jamie McLellan I knew he’d make something amazing so I pitched him the idea and luckily he said yes! He’d never heard of or used an oil diffuser so we started with the functionality and then moved into the design. He sent through sketches and ideas for about a year before landing on the shape and from there it was another year of models, testing and refinement. We launched version one almost two years ago and next month we’ll launch version 2.0!
— Your recent venture into perfumes is exciting! Can you tell about your experience thus far and what you hope to learn and develop?
Yes! My background’s in aromatherapy but I’d always dreamt of studying perfumery. I stumbled across The Institute of Art & Olfaction, an amazing perfume school right here in L.A. and it’s been a revelation. Bringing together the scientific therapeutic aspects of aromatherapy with the conceptual artistic elements of perfumery is a dream come true. We’ve coined the term therapeutic perfumery and I feel like it perfectly explains what we’re trying to bring to the world – beautiful scents that tap into your subconscious and help you feel good!
— What scents are you personally drawn to? What are the healing properties of these scents and how do you like to introduce them into your everyday?
I’m a Pitta dosha so I’m generally drawn to woody earthy scents because they’re grounding and calming for me. But I also really love dirty floral scents like Jasmine Sambac for their mysterious, sensuous qualities. I use incense every morning and evening when I meditate and I have a diffuser going on my desk during the day. I also keep an aromatherapy pillow under my regular pillow, which gently scents it with lavender and chamomile for a great night’s sleep.
— After speaking with you, the LA community sounds as though they have been recently invigorated, rather than defeated, by the recent change in government. Can you elaborate on some of the ways in which you have/are experiencing this shift in the creative community?
Everyone was totally shocked by Trump's win. There was a collective day of mourning and then people came together to go 'what can we do?' There have been huge actions like the Women’s March with 750,000 people, through to independent brands joining forces to raise money for ACLU and Planned Parenthood. People are rising up, I have faith!
— As a kiwi living abroad, how would you suggest a visit to LA be enjoyed?
I think LA is all about knowing where to go. The city can seem ugly and overwhelming at first but once you know the spots (and how to plan around traffic) a whole world of amazingness opens up!
Our LA top 5:
• The Icelandic rye and preserves at Destroyer
• Tuna Canyon hike for a sunset ocean view
• Martini and fries at the Sunset Tower
• A swim at the secret Lechuza Beach
• Porridge waffle and nut milk coffee at Gjusta
— Being settled into your home-away-from-home what are some pieces that you have bought with you to remind you of NZ?
• NZ art by John Reynolds, Lisa Crowley and Richard Killeen
• My nana’s book of recipes and baking pans
• Dining chairs by Wellingtonian Stu Barr
Images by Greta van der Star