Shu Hung and Joseph Magliaro of Table of Contents on Freunde Von Freunden
PHOTOS BY JOANNA HAN
Our favorite retail stores set themselves apart by virtue of their impeccable curation and unique points of view — naturally, the folks who run them tend to apply those same skills to their personal interiors, making them prime candidates for house-tour stories like the one we recently did on Totokaelo’s Jill Wenger. Joseph Magliaro and Shu Hung from the Portland store Table of Contents might have been our next stop, but — next best thing! — our friends at Freunde von Freunden beat us to it. Earlier this week, they published dozens of gorgeous photographs of Hung and Magliaro hanging out at home and walking around Portland, plus a few shots of their store (below) and office. Check out a short excerpt from that piece below, then scroll down to read the rest over at FvF!Text by Alec Recinos
Bathed in sunlight, Shu Hung and Joseph Magliaro stand on the balcony of their Division Street apartment. Shu is the Global Director of Energy Marketing at Nike, a role that allows her to develop projects that bring the footwear brand in contact with artists, designers, architects and creative thinkers from around the world. Joseph operates a design practice that includes designing furniture, retail environments, publications and identity systems. Before finding a home in Portland, Shu and Joseph lived in cities around the world, from Berlin to Beijing and New York. Noticeably smaller and quieter than the other cities, Portland combines space for contemplation with global connections that allow them to continue their design work. Most importantly, Portland’s calm pace and sense of ease allow them to extend their sense of home beyond the walls of their apartment and into familiar spaces within the city.
The roots of their store Table of Contents are inseparably linked with the interests and lives of the couple. While in Berlin, they began experimenting with creating new shopping experiences by setting up makeshift stands on the street – more cabinets of curiosities than stores – where they would sell or give away unique objects they had found or created. This spirit underlies Table of Contents where the duo bring together objects that they love and feel connected to. Instead of focusing on just objects, Shu and Joseph use their space as a way of coalescing with others. They elevate the shop beyond commerce and into a social sphere that provides a place for new experiences. After time spent in their apartment discussing their lives we enjoy an outing across the river to their store; a place that is a manifestation of their shared visions.
How long have you lived in this building and what attracted you to it?
Joseph: We’ve been here for about four years. We moved to Portland from Berlin and rented a really beautiful house that was based around a central courtyard with lots of floor-to-ceiling glass. The space was wonderful to be in during the day, but at night I think we both found it a bit unnerving.
Shu: Yeah, we just felt a bit too exposed. And the house was in the suburbs of Portland, in Beaverton actually. There was nowhere that we could walk. It was the quintessential mid-century American housing development.
Joseph: The area lacked the density that we’re used to from living in urban environments, so we didn’t last long. We started looking for a building with the kind of open floor plan and large windows that we loved in the house, but that also had access to restaurants, cafes and a bit of street life. In addition, I’ve also realized that I really like being elevated above the street just a bit. Looking out from the balcony, you can see downtown. I like to have a vantage on my destination. Starting here at point A and visualizing that I’ll be heading over to point B once I’ve finished the morning coffee is kind of nice.
What makes home “home”?
Shu: Well, for me, I think it has to do with feeling completely at ease. Having a place where you feel at ease. And I don’t think it’s limited to the walls of your house or apartment. Actually I think the more spaces within a city in which you feel familiar and relaxed, the more you feel at home.
Yeah, it’s tough to pinpoint, isn’t it? You just know it when you’ve got it.
Joseph: Whatever it is, I think it just takes time. After you’ve occupied a space long enough, it starts to feel like the things that work and don’t work are kind of part of you. You accept them and maybe don’t even notice them. To other people they may seem strange or unlivable. It’s like you adapt to the one kitchen drawer that always falls off the track when you pull it out. You stop trying to fix everything and just accept its quirks.
How did you accumulate all of your furniture and art pieces? Are there any stories you can share about them?
Joseph: I think this connects to the home question. The longer an object or piece of furniture travels with me, the more I tend to develop a kind of sympathy for that thing. It has something to do with the idea of “patina.” Certain objects develop both a physical and emotional patina over time, while others are generally disposable. And it’s not so easy to identify which objects are which. An iPhone, for example, is this beautiful, highly designed object and yet its potential for developing a desirable patina seems pretty slim.
We care very little about the longevity of our phones and would gladly exchange them for a newer model as soon as one is available. The same cannot be said for a set of vintage Carl Auböck bookends or an old Aalto table that you’ve sat at for decades.
Shu: A lot of stuff in here we’ve had since we lived in New York. Back then, we were just finding things on the street or at thrift stores. Then of course eBay kind of changed that and we have since found a lot of things from hunting online. We lived in London and Berlin for a while and so we acquired some things during our time in Europe too.
The interview continues at length on Freunde Von Freunden. Click here to read the rest of it, plus view many more fantastic photos shot in Hung and Magliaro’s home, store, and around Portland.