[ART]iculations: Owens & Co.

A new boutique in Chinatown’s arts district offers shoppers a renewed sense of individuality

The “Passage des Panoramas” of the Paris Arcades circa 1900.

Today, your average stroll through a modern mall or shopping center provides an experience not much different than what was offered up by the first arcades in Paris during the early- to mid- 1800s. Walter Benjamin once used the term botanizing on the asphalt (a spin off of a theory first coined by Charles Baudelaire) to describe the anonymity of strolling through the arcades. The phenomenon, although revolutionary, was short-lived – fueled by the advent of industrial innovation, what began as a novel way to shop eventually evolved to become a marketplace for trite and over-produced memorabilia (what we know today as the department store.) Our own experiences mimic Baudelaire’s proclamation in a newly commoditized way; it’s easy to become engulfed and ultimately bogged down in the sea of commercialized, mass-produced duplicates that typically surround you in an extant shopping setting.

Interior of Owens & Co.

Owens & Co., a new boutique on the corner of Nu’uanu Avenue, offers an effective escape from this mundanity. Owner Marie Owens Mull celebrated the grand opening of the boutique this year with the objective of providing shoppers with a wide array of unique and interesting items that can’t be found in other shops on the island.

Upon entry, Owens & Co. proves to be a breath of fresh air: an inspired environment embellished with a plenitude of colors and textures. This swanky little store might just become my next go-to place when shopping for unique gift ideas. They hold items that span the whole gamut from household goods and decorative trinkets to fun toiletries and clothing. And there’s a little something for the vintage-lovers out there too: Most of the items are new, but don’t be surprised if you happen upon a refurbished furniture piece amidst other scattered vintage offerings.

Don’t believe that you’ll find truly one-of-a-kind things at Owens & Co? Take these hand-embroidered pillows made from textiles originating from the Otomi tribe in Mexico (try getting that at Pier 1!).

But really, you didn’t think I’d let this end without a mention of art, did you? (Tisk, tisk!) As a nod to its location in the heart of Chinatown’s art district, Owens & Co also plans to showcase work by local artists. Currently on display are mixed media pieces by Yellow Bird Bohemia. They’re gorgeous works of unique art that also liven up any living situation.

Artwork by Yellow Bird Bohemia at Owens & Co.

Owens & Co.

1152 Nuuanu Ave.

Honolulu, HI 96817

Mon – Fri, 10 am – 6 pm and Sat, 11 am – 4 pm


ARTiculations is a blog on culture and the arts by Carolyn Mirante for Flux Hawaii. Carolyn is a Honolulu-based arts critic and Owner/Director of the Gallery of Hawaii Artists (GoHA) an alternative exhibition space dedicated to the contemporary arts in Hawaii.

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