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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, July 6, 2000
Eames lounge chair, designed
in 1957, sells for $3,350 at p2.

It’s hip to be p2

By Ruby Mata-Viti

We love high culture -- theater, dance, music, cinema -- but weekends are also made for shopping. Shopping Fanatic is a Thursday feature dedicated to the pursuit of finds beyond the malls.


Some mainland trends hit Hawaii hard. Others tend to trickle in. If the mid-century modern furniture trend ever makes it here, p2 hopes to be at the helm.

Use the word "trend," though, and manager Justin Oda flinches. "It's more like art rather than a trend." People worldwide are realizing the industrial designs of the '40s through '70s are timeless. "Some collect these pieces as functional art," he says.

Others just buy them for nostalgia, like a customer who saw the Eames lounge chair and ottoman set there and bought it simply because he had one just like it 30 years ago. It's the same kind NBC's sitcom psychologist Frasier has in his living room. p2 sells the wood-veneer and black leather set, made just like the original, for $3,350.

Just like art, nostalgia is not cheap. Furniture of this period is defined by modernist masters such as Ray and Charles Eames, Herman Miller, and Verner Panton, who created furniture at the dawn of the postwar era based on the future as they envisioned it: clean, bright and sculptural. Most items in the store cost more than $500 and Oda says the prices are reflective of quality and style. A few items cost less, like authorized copies of George Nelson's Starburst, Ball and Asterisk clocks, $250 and up, LePage acrylic vases in fluorescent colors, which start at $150, and Alexander Girard pillows made of European linen, $110.

The small shop has been at 1221 Kapiolani Blvd. for two years and is unassuming for a furniture store. From the sidewalk, one has to squint to read the small, abstract 'p2' logo that marks the front window, hinting at the decor beyond. Vibrant red swivel chairs, a spiderlike three-coned floor lamp and amoeba-shaped woven cane ceiling lights are compelling shapes against stark white walls. These sell for $799, $3,800 and $194 respectively. Some items also have relatives on permanent exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Customers can thumb through catalogs for items by Herman Miller, Vitra and others. p2 inventory is not limited to these well-respected designers, however. Buyers are always on the lookout for anything that has visual draw yet is suited to everyday use. Form and function. Right now, they're looking for photographers and local furniture designers to showcase.

Hawaii, however, is synonymous with rattan, which seems natural because the backdrops for furniture are simple, single-wall constructed homes. Oda finds this puzzling. "Even people here who can afford furniture at this price range still buy rattan. Not that there's anything wrong with that."

Oda says what they carry suits any type of home, any decor. And can even stand beside rattan for an eclectic look.

What does p2 (P squared) stand for? Just like art, "It means anything you want it to mean."

Store hours are 10 a.m to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance to validated parking lot is off Kona street.

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