A Seller's Eye

Nostalgia for Life with Tyler Bonilla of Très Chic LA

Photography by Tyler Bonilla

Julian Wright

The first thing you might notice about Très Chic LA’s Instagram page is the vast amount of color — not garish, just beautifully colorful. I get the feeling this aesthetic is related to the motto of the shop and it’s founder: “life is art, we are just a canvas,” says Tyler Bonilla. “The motto applies to every aspect of life, from the interiors of your space to how you live your life every day.”

In March 2021, after building a collection through frequenting estate sales and thrifting, he launched Très Chic LA out of West Hollywood. With the pandemic keeping everyone (more or less) at home the need for a well-designed space became increasingly necessary, and Tyler already had a love for art and a passion for design. The inspiration was already there through a love of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s chic interiors and home decor.

“Nostalgia is what drives me. Whether that be interior design nostalgia, or simple nostalgia for life in a particular era or decade,” he said. “The feeling of nostalgia and excitement for something that lived a previous life. The hunt for a showstopper.”

When sourcing objects, Tyler relies on history as a guide to tell him what’s new that was once old. Without this basic knowledge, the sometimes ahistorical nature of vintage furniture can make it seem less meaningful. That’s where nostalgia is important; it’s a call back to the past, to memories, or to a story. It’s about finding objects that are just as emotionally impactful as they are aesthetically pleasing.

“It sounds cliche, but understanding what objects resonate with people’s sense of nostalgia is key to vintage shopping. I am an empath, someone who can feel others emotions,” Tyler said. “Growing up gay in the 1990s and early aughts forced me to be heavily in touch with my emotions and the emotions of others. I think this is something that helps me pick objects and home decor that have meaning.”

Vintage has the benefit of sustainability and functionality but that’s not what tugs at the heart strings and brings out a wallet. In history, these objects have meaning and the chance to be a part of that is all the convincing anyone needs to bring home a piece what once used to be. 

“When I see or touch an object that makes me feel nostalgic for another past life or era, I know it’s worth buying.”

REM Round

Favorite designer right now: Anna Castelli Ferrieri
Favorite object right now
: My Danish modern teak dresser chest by Arne Vodder for Sibast
Your astrological sign: Pisces
Texture your eye is drawn to: Marble or onyx
When I'm not collecting, curating, and selling vintage wares I am: taking care of my new kitties.
My estate sale strategy: Look for unique books, sculptures, and colorful glassware
First song on the estate sale getaway car playlist: Anything by Fleetwood Mac
When I say chair, you think: Cesca
When I say light, you think: Staging and photography!

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Our spaces are reflections of who we have been, who we are, and who we are becoming. We believe that the objects we surround ourselves with have meaningful impact on the lives we lead, and it is our mission to empower people to find and experiment with objects that move them, resourcefully, sustainably, and freely.