Hannah Hoffman and Jonathan Olivares originally thought of their move to Los Angeles three years ago as a compromise. Hoffman, whose eponymous gallery in Hollywood is flourishing, had never been to L.A. Born and raised in Dallas, the 30-year-old comes from a prominent art-collecting family, studied art history at Boston University, and by 2010 she was an associate at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York. She had already met Olivares, a Boston native who, after a yearlong apprenticeship in Munich with the industrial designer Konstantin Grcic, was establishing his own firm, Jonathan Olivares Design Research. “Hannah wouldn’t move to Boston, and I wouldn’t move to New York,” he explains wryly. So they settled on L.A. “And then I saw this house,” Hoffman says of their 1938 Streamline Moderne bungalow in Silver Lake, with rooms that flow out to patios, windows framing garden views, and a glittering swimming pool. “It looked like everything I thought L.A. could be.” There’s even a small patch of lawn for Shu, their lively springer spaniel. In the backyard, Hoffman stops by a lime tree and a late crop of tomatoes. “This is my guacamole garden,” she says. And each afternoon, Olivares, 33, leaves his nearby office to come home for lunch and to swim a few laps.
Because of the intensely visual nature of their jobs, both Hoffman and Olivares appreciate tightly edited wardrobes and an uncomplicated environment. Their domestic palette, the couple agrees, “is pretty black and white”: Walls are white, wooden floors are ebonized, and countertops are Carrara marble. For the outdoor living area, Olivares commissioned a utilitarian dining table and designed a simple steel-frame arbor that will eventually be covered in honeysuckle vines. Hoffman readily confesses to having jettisoned most of her New York wardrobe in favor of spartan sandals and the beautifully slouched silhouettes perfected by designers like Phoebe Philo and Maryam Nassir Zadeh. “I do wear this bracelet every day,” she says, displaying a Céline cuff. Another item she rarely takes off is a stout little egg pendant suspended on a wisp of a chain, designed by Sophie Buhai. (She also designed two rings—one gold, one onyx—for Hoffman’s last birthday, with Olivares’s guidance.) Buhai, who was a cofounder of the fashion line Vena Cava, lives nearby and has been a good neighbor, offering crucial input on deadlocked design decisions and the inside scoop on local craftspeople. She even hosted Hannah Hoffman Gallery’s annual Christmas party.
Throughout the house, art and objects from all eras reside harmoniously: Hanging in the living room is a 1985 drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which was a baby shower gift from the artist to Hoffman’s mother, Sally, who passed it on to her daughter; nearby is a large photograph by Luisa Lambri, a haunting image of an uninhabited space. Downstairs is an equally spare canvas, by Matt Sheridan Smith, whose works Hoffman is bringing to this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach. Meanwhile, Olivares’s first product, Smith, a multi-use storage unit that was awarded the prestigious Compasso d’Oro design prize in 2011, sits next to a tiered 1928 Marcel Breuer table. Moving from room to room, a timeline of chair design emerges, from Harry Bertoia’s 1952 Diamond classic to Charles Pollock’s suave 1960 steel, aluminum, and leather armchair and a wooden chair constructed from a 1974 Enzo Mari plan. As Olivares observes, there’s a life cycle that separates the design of furniture from that of, say, an iPhone—an inherent “heirloom-ness.”