Function leads, form follows — it’s a philosophy intimates designer Bonita Kye picked up studying the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Richard Neutra, leading her to elevate the humble bra and pantie set to something that would look right at home lazing around one by either architect.
Architecture — specifically, the pool at Ohlson Recreation Center in Sea Ranch, Calif. — is also what led her to water when sourcing inspiration for her debut swim collection, out Aug. 1.
Completed in 1974 by Berkeley firm Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker, the center is one of three inside the Sonoma County community project, typifying the area’s “Third Bay Tradition” style with cubistic angles framed in timber and a sloped rooftop that blends seamlessly into the landscape.
Kye first learned of it from a 2018 exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and, upon visiting, says she “was completely enamored by its otherworldly beauty and its ability to preserve a sense of calm.”
The designer distilled that feeling into silhouettes so spare they are practically elemental, evading pesky underwires and unnecessary frou to minimize the gap between body and body of water.
The collection’s singlet and interchangeable bikini separates are made from Amni Soul Eco chosen for its ability to biodegrade, while the languid floor-length slip puts deadstock mesh (a Kye signature) to use. Eco-consciousness is at the core of Kye’s endeavors — something she shares with the residents in Sea Ranch whose aim is to “live lightly on the land.”
“The modern woman is choosing to research and stand by brands who prioritize their sustainability practices,” she said. “I think ‘sexy’ is headed toward empowerment and mindfulness.”
Kye swim will be exclusive to the brand’s e-commerce and Ssense.