Those that have been following me for awhile know that I try to go back to Hawaii (especially the island of Oahu) pretty frequently. Aside from the gorgeous locales, amazing weather, laid back luxury, and oh, yeah, it’s also PARADISE?!? Hawaii is also a place of great inspiration for me. Look past the touristy kitsch of surfboards, tikis, and hibiscus, and you’ll find that there is a ton of incredible examples of modern design, (not to mention if you work in the fashion design industry, Waikiki and Honolulu are one of the best places to
shop “research” the market since everything is there – and open late!). There’s also a new generation of young emerging talent that is developing it’s own unique community.
I recently heard about a new store opening up in Honolulu, called Mono, so on this past trip I made sure to check it out. Much to my delight, the shop is as cool and charming as I had hoped. Shop owners Dean and Cassy Song are the cutest couple with impeccable taste.
The store is expertly curated with small home goods and accessories. I took a few moments to chat with them about their story, the design scene in Hawaii, as well as a few of their favorite things on the Island:
When did you open the store?
April 28, 2013 was our store’s grand opening!
What was the story behind opening up the shop?
Dean received a Recording Engineering degree from Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, California, and has his own recording studio (The Heatery) and mobile sound company (Soundscape). I’m currently in the New Media Arts program for Interface Design at KCC (Kapi’olani Community College) and have a background in retail doing sales and visual merchandising. The idea of opening our own store stemmed from a trip we took to Japan for our honeymoon, during which we spent countless hours at various shops in Tokyo. Inspired by what we saw, we felt compelled to bring a piece of our travels back home with us. Our goal is to offer everyday necessities with great design aesthetics and functionality.
What do you think about the design scene in Hawaii today? Are there any groups, locations, areas etc… that you see are up and coming/ “ones to watch”?
The design scene in Hawaii has definitely come a long way. Kaka’ako area is one of my favorite places to hang out these days. They have a little bit of everything for all types (coffee shops, creative spaces, galleries, boutiques, events, etc). I really love what’s happening there.
Being based in Hawaii, are there any misconceptions you feel people have about Hawaii and modern design?
That everyone surfs and we are all beach bums. Haha! I feel that modern design is really making its mark here. Hawaii has a lot of potential and a ton of new businesses have been emerging. I’ve also noticed traditional designs infused with modern aesthetics; it’s great!
What are 5 things you would recommend to anyone visiting Oahu?
1) Plate lunch from Pioneer Saloon
2) Sushi from Yohei
3) North Shore beaches
4) monthly events: Art & Flea // Kaka’ako Night Market // Eat the Street // First Fridays,
5) Shopping spots: Kaka’ako // Kailua // Downtown // Moili’ili <--that's us What are your favorite pieces currently in the shop?
We both do the buying for the store and we bring in things that we love, so it’s hard to pick favorites. But, if we had to pick something each, Dean’s favorite is the Bottle Opener from Areaware; and my favorite would be the Flyer Series Helmet Bag from Flight 001.
An online shop for Mono is currently in the works, but in the meantime, be sure to follow their Instagram to see the latest products, and you can contact them directly if you are interested in any items! And, of course, if you are in Honolulu, definitely give them a visit and tell them Happy Mundane sent ya! 🙂
2013 SOUTH KING ST
HONOLULU, HI 96826
MON–SAT: 11–7 // SUN: CLOSED
cover photo: Mark Kushimi