INTERVIEW: Manuela Soto Sosa On Her Anime-Inspired Home Drop And Maximalist Interior Design
Baby-faced with powerful bodies, Manuela Soto Sosa’s illustrated figures are at once anime and all her own. Over a decade ago, the 30-year-old artist, illustrator, and designer started building her universe of hyper-femme characters inking them onto bodies. Next she expanded into streetwear (Billie Eilish is a fan). And now her latest drop is for the home, including rugs, blankets, pillows, and posters. On Instagram you might have seen the bed too, a collaboration between Soto Worldwide and Paris-based Zyva Studio: a saucer-eyed and full-lipped Soto girl makes up the headboard, her long nails grasping onto her feet, pulling her legs open. The woman on the headboard contains multitudes, like all Soto’s figures, at once sexy, cute, and commanding. And armed with their empowered energy, it seems there’s no industry the artist can’t take over — in addition to expanding into decor, she also has an animated show with AMC Studios in the works. (For now the iconic Soto/Zyva bed collaboration also remains a rendering.)
Soto’s gravitation toward interiors has come naturally. After constantly touring the world giving tattoos, the artist with Swiss and Uruguayan roots settled in L.A. and a little over a year ago opened Softflex, a tattoo studio and creative space downtown. “That’s when I got super into interior design. I wanted to show my personality in this space.” Finding her voice mixing DIY and designer furniture while combining industrial grittiness with her curvy-cute figures, Soto explains, “It feels good. It feels like me.” Though tattooing is still a big part of her practice, Soto has expanded into other mediums like clothing and home decor to establish a more ongoing relationship with her designs. “All the tattoos I do are custom, it’s only one edition. It’s tattooed on somebody, and then it’s out the door. I feel sad sometimes because I’ve created so much that I’ll never see again.”
For the home drop, Soto approached Zyva Studio to virtually design a fantasy domestic space, the ideal environment for the rugs and pillows she’s designed IRL. This virtual project birthed furniture pieces like the bed, which people have become obsessed with online. “Now we have to make it!” says Soto, adding that a full collection with Zyva Studio is on the horizon. “We want to do bigger stuff with more noble materials, like stone, glass, and marble.”
Soto and Softflex studio manager Diego Lopez see the maximalist Soto girl bed as indicative of the next wave in design. It’s like an elevated version of a racing car bed (which Soto says she dreamed of having as a kid) or a contemporary update of Lana Turner’s iconic clamshell bed (which Cardi B also references in her recent “Up” music video). “For a long time design has been about less is more, really clean and very simple,” Lopez explains. “We did that and it’s been pushed to the extreme. The neutral pallet turned blank. Now we’re ready for maximalism again!”
Text by Whitney Mallett.
Portraits by Shane Smith.
Renders by Anthony Authie, courtesy Zyva Studio.