Nails of New York: Leilani Arita
Stepping into the SoHo studio of designer (and Paintbox devotee) Leilani Arita to talk modern manicures, all things design, and finding inspiration in nature.

Leilani Arita (like Usha Joyrama) was another client we "discovered" via Instagram. This summer, the designer (who focuses on interiors) grammed a photo of her all white Moonbeam mani paired with a stunning Rill Rill marble necklace and we took note. When we ran into her at Paintbox a few weeks later, we fell further in love with her personal style and asked if we could feature her on the blog. Several months and many Paintbox manicures later, we finally made it happen. 

We met up with Leilani post-manicure (she's a gel regular) at her SoHo studio, which is conveniently located two blocks from Paintbox. Leilani shared more about her work and let us take a peek at some inspiration she was pulling together for a new project. Fabric swatches, stone samples, and wood finish options were laid out to form an interior design moodboard. These textural objects were the perfect background for our shoot and the perfect complement to Leilani's Basic Instinct manicure. 

Materials moodboard: the designer (photographed in her SoHo studio) preps inspiration for a new project. 

Why do you paint your nails?

I work a lot with my hands—from drawings to metal work, and everything in between—so I like to take care of my hands and nails any chance I get. They do a lot for me!

Do you have a favorite polish color or go-to look?

Not possible! There are too many polishes to choose from nowadays, plus it’s fun to try new things. That said, I always love something graphic looking.

Leilani wears Basic Instinct from the Paintbox FW'14 collection. Her opal teardrop ring is from Catbird and is also her birthstone. 

We couldn't resist the urge to snap Leilani's mani against a freshly painted bike lane on Grand Street.

Where do you find inspiration?

Lately, it's been from architecture and nature. And I did some great traveling this year, like a trip to Morocco. There I found inspiration in the intricate scale of the patterns seen in everything from metalwork to the tiling on buildings. In Milan, I was struck by the use of colors in fabrics and leathers—which are so bold, yet very natural feeling in a city where fashion has such a great hold. I also source inspiration during the quiet time I spend in Vermont. Walks in the woods bring a lot of ideas about how light filters through trees. All of these experiences get incorporated into how I understand and interpret different spaces. What is important in feeling comfortable in a room, and how you can make an impact with colors and textures. All of that can be inspiring in your work. 

Nails of New York: Leilani Arita

Tool of the trade: a scale ruler paired with Leilani's mani.

Visit Leilani's site to see some of her beautiful work.