MUSICEYES & EDGE

Table of Contents, a concept store, opens in Chinatown

MUSICEYES & EDGE
Table of Contents, a concept store, opens in Chinatown

 Table of Contents is one of the latest boutiques to emerge in the ongoing reinvention of Portland’s Chinatown.Largely due to the effort of a partner at an elite advertising agency, Chinatown is gradually becoming a hub for creatives, set against a backdrop of rowdy night clubs, a few Chinese restaurants and a mission for the homeless.Table of Contents was planted in the middle of this transformation. In September 2012, Joseph Magliaro and his wife, Shu Hung, opened the boutique around the concept of a magazine issue. Each issue would contain a theme of carefully curated objects, marketed through the physical location and an e-commerce website."The reality of retail has changed so much due to the Internet," Magliaro said. "Online has become a critical component."Their first issue centered on the idea of "action in character," or art that was created with fluid actions, Magliaro said. The actions are spontaneous, yet with purpose. For example, he explained, he picked up a ceramic pitcher by Max Lamb, an artist who molds shapes from  flexible materials such as Styrofoam.The result is "chunky, primitive forms just from cutting away at it," Magliaro said.Magliaro and Hung first dreamed of opening their own retail store several years ago, when they were living in Germany. They became occasional street vendors, to see what odd finds they could sell. The couple set up a table in public spaces, near metro stations and market squares. They showcased one thing on that table, usually a rarity, such as a vintage book, or a container of air from the Beijing Olympics, and shared stories about the objects to people passing by. Sometimes, strangers were confused. Others were amused. "But mostly, it made kids happy," Magliaro said.In December 2008, Magliaro and Hung moved to Portland and began searching for a retail space. John Jay, partner and executive director at Wieden+Kennedy, introduced them to a few available spots in Chinatown. It was a suitable fit. Jay was already working to reinvent rundown Chinatown as a creative hub by supporting incubators and studios for new artists and designers.The couple took a tour and were  struck by the details of a particular location, a spot that used to be part of the lobby of a gas company, Magliaro said. They saved their money and received a bank loan to secure the space that is now their current retail store."I like stories, and I like details, so it seemed like a good space," Magliaro said.Both Magliaro and Hung are fond of the art of storytelling. In New York City, where they met and dated a decade ago, Hung founded the alternative publication "In," now defunct, and Magliaro did freelance work as a layout designer for print publications."Magazines were super important as a window into contemporary culture and subcultures," Magliaro said. "It was more important at the time. There wasn't access to Tumblr."Magliaro said he especially enjoyed the one-on-one Q&As in "Interview" magazine, which often revealed the "unedited version of people."Their Portland store, then, is a compilation of things that visually inspire them. They featured the work of friends and Portland artists, such as Jason Rens, a furniture maker, and Sara Barner, who creates custom-made leather bags and goods.They're already working on their next theme for early February: a piece of cloth."We're starting with a basic unit and building off of that," Magliaro said.Written by: Dominique Fong