CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Edward Macey, left, and Kaypee Soh are co-owners of so'mace, creative lifestyle gallery. Their new store officially opens on May 30 in Honolulu. Available for sale will be sofa pillows designed by Soh and other items such as the Woofy, which hides cables.
Duo makes its name by design
Some might call it the adventure of a lifetime. Others, less inclined to dream big, might be more hesitant. Either way, not everyone is willing to pack up life as one knows it and trade it in for the opportunity to live elsewhere, far removed from their previous existence.
So'Mace, Creative Lifestyle Gallery
» Hours: 10 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays
» Place: 1115 Young St.
» Call: 593-8780
But Kaypee Soh and Edward Macey, already firmly established in their respective careers, gave up living in a major metropolitan city for one with considerably fewer inhabitants. They left New York City in 2004 and have worked ever since as partners of so'mace, creative lifestyle gallery, in Honolulu.
Soh is the creative force behind so'mace, and Macey handles the business. They've quietly become movers and shakers in the local world of brand design and commercial art in their four years here, moving onto the fast track by assisting clients such as ADI Design Group and wedding photographer Chrissy Lambert with promotional materials. New client Fishcake has signed up for logos, bags, business cards and other related merchandising materials, which will be finished by the fall.
But Soh and Macey are now expanding so'mace beyond their branding, Web design and print work. They made a move four weeks ago to a 1,400-square-foot location on Young Street, and in addition to their offices, they are adding a retail gallery space -- a first for the duo. A new member has also been added to the staff: Liz Teruya, an interior designer, whom they met through their work with the American Society of Interior Designers Hawaii Chapter.
Ninety percent of the work produced by so'mace has been for trade, but so'mace hopes to expand beyond its entity as a branding service and tap into the mainstream retail market with affordably priced graphic prints and household accessories, ranging from $75 for accessories and up to $4,000 for artwork. It is all designed by Soh, who has long had plans to open a boutique and carry a soft-goods line.
Soh has approved prototypes of pillows, rugs, lampshades and more, with such items to be phased in over the next year under the creative headings of "Art for the Sofa" (sofa pillows), "Art for Your Dreams" (bed pillows and other bedding), "Art for the Floor" (rugs) and the last of the group, "Art for the Walls" (wallpaper).
The first of the batch to make its debut, 16 linen sofa pillows ($100) imprinted with Soh's tropical flowers designs, will be available by the store's official opening on May 30.
Though they are ahead of schedule, customers who enter the "lifestyle gallery" are received warmly. Macey gives them the rundown on so'mace, whose name has yet to be put up on its roof.
"I didn't want artwork in a traditional gallery setting, but in a furniture store," said Soh. "Furniture can inspire the art, and the art can inspire the furniture."
Though the space primarily features Soh's modernist, brightly colored soft goods and his artwork, a combination of photographic and graphic compositions, Soh plans to introduce the work of other artists and gadgets that suit his fancy, such as multipurpose glass vases created by Emma Woffenden and Tord Boontje for tranSglass, and Gabriel Nigro's Woofy, a hollow plaster dog designed to store cables.
Both Macey and Soh were New Yorkers by choice, with Soh hailing from Malaysia and Macey a native of Pittsburgh; they left the Big Apple for different reasons.
Macey, who once upgraded New York City's subway signals as the director of projects for the small company Areva, sought a quieter refuge post-Sept. 11, 2001. Soh agreed to the idea of trading the East Coast for tradewinds.
Soh, who draws inspiration from nature, said Hawaii is reminiscent of life growing up in Malaysia. The graphic artist found greenery in small doses in New York City, going on strolls daily through Central Park and taking his camera and sketchbook everywhere.
Soh's background as a graphic designer includes working on campaigns for L'Oreal USA, American Express and MTV. He also lived in London and Toronto.
Both Soh and Macey have adapted to local business culture by mixing the personal and the professional, establishing relationships with customers they now consider friends. But in shaping his latest dreams, Soh has a new goal: to become the Jonathan Adler of Hawaii, branching out into all areas of office and home design, as did Adler, now a pop icon through his association with mass retailer Target and other projects.
While they will continue to work in collaboration with trade clients on branding, Soh and Macey have reached the point where new clients will be taken by referral. "We will still do it," said Soh, "but it will be by network."