Driven By Design
Honolulu Design Center
The 80,000-square-foot Honolulu Design Center, a project 25 years in the making, has finally arrived, much to the delight of its creator, Thomas Sorensen. “I first started dreaming about the design center back in 1982, and it’s been great to see the ideas evolve over the years and finally come to life,” says Sorensen.
Much more than just a furniture store, the design center on Kapiolani Boulevard is home to dozens of innovative and highly unique concepts. Many of them, such as the self-serve wine bar and mixed-artist lighting showroom, are firsts for the industry.
With sofa sets ranging from $700 to $42,000, the design center showrooms give new meaning to the phrase “something for everyone.” Couture furnishings by designers like Fendi, Natuzzi and Molteni are lavishly displayed together on the first floor directly across from the BoConcept showroom, a moderately priced collection targeted at the young and hip.
The A*muse Wine Bar concept is a first for furniture stores not just in Hawaii, but worldwide. The self-service bar, featuring 80 varieties of wine, is entirely automated. Patrons simply insert a prepaid smart card into the carousel-like bar, select a wine and wait for the goods.
Sorensen had the most fun designing the second-floor Stage Restaurant. Highlights include outrageously bold European art (by now, you’ve surely seen the 10-foot-wide sphere-shaped lamps observable from the corner of Piikoi and Kapiolani boulevards), upscale dining furniture and, oh yes, “American couture cuisine,” by famed chef Jon T. Matsubara.
With a max-capacity of 160 people, the Cupola Event Center will be home to all sorts of events, from fashion shows to foreign movie screenings. The most innovative feature is the center’s retractable roof. But the 80 multicolored bean bags that hang from the ceiling when not in use are pretty cool too.