• home tour
    AT HOME WITH JOSEPH MAGLIARO & SHU HUNG
    The storeowners and designers give us a tour around their carefully-curated and sun-drenched Portland loft.
    Sept 16, 2014  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    Store owners Joe Magliaro and Shu Hung began their retail careers in the most unexpected way - as occasional vendors on the streets of Berlin.

    When the couple first began to imagine themselves as store owners, they didn't wait for a physical space of their own to begin experimenting with a few ideas. The pair set up a table in public places throughout Berlin, and featured a single item at a time - an object fascinating enough to elicit curiosities of its origin from intrigued passers-by.

    A short time later, and a move halfway around the world, the couple now owns Portland's most progressive, new retail concept, Table of Contents. Conceived more similarly to a semi-annual publication than a traditional retail experience, the store explores a new theme with every season - recently, abstract interpretations of 'play' and 'a piece of cloth.'

    We recently explored the couple's design approach at the Table of Contents store, and at the couple's nearby home. Over coffee and pastries prepared by the gracious hosts, we sat down to discuss their principals as both creators and consumers of design.
    Having lived in New York, London, Berlin and Beijing, Joe and Shu have collected objects from every corner of the globe. But regardless of origin, every item in both their home and store maintains a certain restraint - minimal in design and a strong respect for the material used.

    Despite their preference for more minimal and modern forms, their home maintains a definite warmth - achieved largely through its sprawling greenery, and large windows that bring the Portland landscape indoors. We also found ourselves mesmerized by a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf that spanned an entire wall - a collection that has traveled and grown in each of the cities they've lived.

    See more of Joe and Shu's inspiring Portland apartment, and their retail concept that transcends traditional notions of a store experience.
  • WHAT ASPECT OF CREATIVITY DOES A RETAIL STORE FULFILL THAT OTHER DESIGN-RELATED JOBS COULDN'T?

    Joe: I guess for me, it's an opportunity to build a design experience that encompasses everything from its visual identity, to the layout of the space, and even those micro elements like sound and smell. Also, the way we curate events and share - we are, in some ways, developing a community.

    Shu: And there's no one to answer to, which is nice. We aren't really a highly matrixed organization. We just discuss between ourselves and ask “Do you like this?” Because we're so small, we have the ability to move from an idea to a realized experience really quickly.

  • HAD EITHER OF YOU WORKED IN A RETAIL STORE BEFORE?

    Shu: I went to college with Carol and Humberto from Opening Ceremony, and did a lot of their graphic design when I first moved to NYC. I also worked on my magazine in the back of their store, so I could see around me how they were approaching retail and gained somewhat of an understanding. Not a deep understanding, but enough to know what needs to happen at what time.

    Joe: I've never worked in retail, but in some ways, I hope that naivete is good. Our idea for a store definitely wasn't about capacity and square footage - it was more about creating an environment of things, how we wanted to show them to the public.

  • WHAT QUALITIES OF DESIGN DO YOU FIND MOST ATTRACTIVE?

    Shu: We seem to be attracted to interesting shapes, and things that have certain geometry.

    Joe: I like materials. We have these little sub-collections of bronze pieces or wooden forms. I like seeing uses of material because it helps when we're trying to develop a new project or design. I'm also really drawn to objects whose purpose is a little ambiguous - when you look at a piece and can't really tell if it's meant to be used or merely looked at. I think that plays into a lot of the objects we design, collect, or display in the store.

  • DO YOU ORGANIZE THESE OBJECTS TO CREATE A DESIRED MOOD OR ATMOSPHERE?

    Shu: For our home, I'm not sure that it's so premeditated. We don't necessarily think “Oh, we want it to be light and airy, or dark and cinematic.” Each individual item comes together to create the atmosphere.

    But for the store, we are much more conscious of what it feels like when you walk in - how it smells, the music. We're definitely more interested in that holistic experience.

  • It's an opportunity to build a design experience that encompasses everything from its visual identity, to the layout of the space, and even those micro elements like sound and smell.

  • DO YOUR DESIGN VISIONS EVER CONTEND?

    Shu: Generally, we seem to agree on large objects like furniture, but I think Joe likes to have more than we may need. I don't really disagree with the choices - it's more just the quantity. We have a storage space full of chairs, haha!

  • YOU HAVE SUCH A GREAT SPACE FOR ENTERTAINING. DO YOU HOST OFTEN?

    Shu: We haven't done much entertaining recently, unfortunately. We do like to have people over, but it's been really hard since the store opened. We used to host a number of dinner parties, and would love to get back into it. We're glad you're here though!

  • shop the story
    GEOMETRIC
    Straight lines and sharp angles lend a clean and contemporary look to your home. Check out a few of our sleekest selections below.
  • I'm really drawn to objects whose purpose is a little ambiguous - When you look at a piece and can't really tell if it's meant to be used or merely looked at.

  • We seem to be attracted to interesting shapes, and things that have certain geometry.

  • We don't necessarily think 'Oh, we want it to be light and airy, or dark and cinematic.' Each individual item comes together to create the atmosphere.

  • shop the story
    A TOUCH OF GREEN
    A simple, fool-proof way to spruce up a home is by adding a hint of greenery. Take a peek at some of favorite vessels for elevating your house plants into sculptural works of art.
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