What They Bought
Table of Contents, Portland

Table of Contents is a concept shop that sells clothing and objects from a storefront just inside the gates of Portland’s Chinatown, opened in September by two local designers. So when one of them, Joseph Magliaro, told us that “the goal of TOC is to produce an expanded notion of what a publication can be,” well, you can’t blame us if we were a smidge confused. But it turns out that Magliaro and his other half, Shu Hung, prefer to look at their store as a kind of magazine come to life — a place where the things we’re all reading about now, or should be, are actually there to have and to hold, and where every fashion season brings a new “editorial” theme. Currently, the store’s offerings are based loosely around the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote “Action Is Character”; spring/summer’s “A Piece of Cloth,” a reference to Issey Miyake’s back-to-basics philosophy, will usher in not only a fresh batch of related acquisitions but a series of special commissions by designers responding to the directive. “Our interests are a bit too varied to stick to one thing,” Magliaro says. “The themes help us focus.”

They also represent the pair’s attempt to push Table of Contents beyond the standard shop experience into something more multi-faceted, an aspiration partly inspired by two other great retail experiments: Comme des Garçons and Opening Ceremony. When the latter first opened in New York, Hung was running an (actual) magazine called IN- out of its back office — one similarly dedicated to a new theme each issue, like INcandescent or INcognito — and she had a firsthand view of its influence. It wasn’t until a year or two later, though, that she and Magliaro found the final spark for the shop they’d eventually open themselves. “In 2004 we happened upon the first Comme des Garçons guerilla store in Berlin,” Magliaro says. “Before then we’d never realized retail could go beyond a transactional experience, creating an environment that appealed to all the senses.”

Granted there may not be anything to taste at TOC, but the spread is still pretty diverse — furniture by local newcomer Jason Rens, tactile objects by Carl Aübock, dresses by Zero + Maria Cornejo, vintage magazines and collectibles from Magliaro and Hung’s personal collections, book stands designed by the couple themselves. They also get a little help from friends to shake things up: “We feature a rotating reading list of 10 books selected for us by someone we admire; we often find new artists and topics to explore that way,” says Magliaro. As he talks you through some of the myriad items currently stocked at TOC, via the slideshow at right, hopefully you will too.

 

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A view inside Table of Contents, Portland, Oregon's newest design-obsessed concept shop.

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“Belgian designer Jan-Jan van Essche challenges the quick-turn format of the fashion industry by producing a single unisex collection each year that’s meant to be layered (pictured, Tunic #1). Another designer featured exclusively at TOC is Jason Rens, whose work experiments with scale and repetition. His process often remains a visual component of his pieces; the Non-Cube table (pictured) joins four triangular forms with a bonding agent that’s simply sanded and left exposed. The totem and models are also by Jason.”

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"Like Jason, whose work sits on the border between furniture and sculpture, Jewelry designer Amélie Riech has a similar predilection for blurring boundaries, which can be seen in the small-edition wearable objects she produces for Uncommon Matters. Like this platinized bracelet formed by master artisans from Thuringian porcelain."

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"Art-like objects that you’re invited to touch, wear, or use definitely appeal to us. Our Cast Cairns, which we produce in bronze, copper, and brass with a small foundry in Portland, can be used as paper weights or doorstops, but they’re also nice just to stack up or hold in your hand."

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"While in London working on some projects this summer, we had an opportunity to visit Max Lamb at his home/studio. Max is someone whose work is highly personal, and in many ways it comes to life through his telling of its making. His process of creating a piece often determines its ultimate form, not some predetermined ideal — which is the case with his Crockery collection for 1882 Ltd."

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"Gemma Holt is another artist we were fortunate to meet in London. Her work is often created by applying an underlying principle to dictate the eventual form. Gemma’s Sectional Bangle set is derived from looking at the section of the wire used to form the bangle."

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"There are several nods to Yves Klein at TOC — books, fixtures, and even specific objects made for the shop, like these brilliant IKB necklaces by Confetti System."

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"Many of the display fixtures for TOC were designed by us, including this walnut and cast bronze book rest. The books and magazines we feature in the shop include a selection of vintage items that reflect ongoing research and interests (Yves Klein and the MoMA’s 1972 exhibition "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape" have been touchstones for years). Also pictured: the CL-16 Copper Pendant by David Derksen."

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"Donald Wall's 1971 book on the work of Paolo Soleri presented a radical approach to typography and form that predicted the work of celebrated designers of the 1990s, like David Carson and Bruce Mau. It's a pretty special book, and it's shown here with our bronze penta-base book rest."

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"We consider Rei Kawakubo the ultimate stylist. The notion of style is sometimes denigrated in comparison with design, but for us a stylist is someone who transcends the limits of design. Design solves problems; style is a feeling or phenomenon that's cultivated over time, the interior you project to an exterior. Very few designers manage to develop a world so completely styled as the one that Rei Kawakubo has produced through Comme des Garçons. Pictured here is an updated Alvar Aalto stool Rei Kawakubo created for Artek in an edition of 100, plus a vintage Braun desk fan by Reinhold Weiss, a bronze three-footed bowl by Alma Allen, and a leather overnight bag by Sara Barner."

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"There's something so wonderful about the transformation of a rock from a simple river stone into an object for daily admiration. Austria's Werkstätte Carl Auböck produces these paperweights to order with rocks selected from a river and wrapped in unique leather sheaths. In the background is a special-edition Slow And Steady Wins The Race IKB Bodega Bag."

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"Phyllis Johnson’s Aspen was published in 10 issues between 1965–1971 — a few of which we have for sale in the shop — and featured an incredible selection of international artists and writers. Each issue took a different form and expanded the idea of what a magazine could be. In a way, the goal of TOC is to produce a similarly expanded notion of what a publication can be. Shown here are the contents of Aspen 9: The Psychedelic Issue (1971), edited by Angus and Hetty MacLise, with contributions from Don Snyder, John Cale, LaMonte Young, Terry Riley, and others."

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"We love ceramics — especially idiosyncratic, hand-built ceramics like the ones created by Morgan Peck in L.A. Her unique pieces for TOC include a slab ceramic vase, a modular slab sculpture, and an extruded piece with lavender glaze. Also pictured is another unique work by Jason Rens: the Non-Cross, which can take on the role of a totemic sculpture, display table, or seating element by simply changing its orientation."

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Another view of the interior of the shop.

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Table of Contents is located at 33 NW 4th Avenue in Portland, Oregon.