How to Decorate Your Home Like This Honolulu Designer
There’s just something about Hawaiian home decor that makes us instantly feel like we’re on vacation. If you’ve ever visited the Islands and wished you could bring a little of that eclectic beach house vibe to your own home, then you’re going to love hearing from OluKai friend and Honolulu-based interior designer Maura Fujihira. As co-owner of Fishcake – a furniture & art store and design collective founded in 2007 to focus on residential, restaurant, and workspace projects – and someone who is an expert in the local Hawai‘i aesthetic (amongst many other things), Maura has some design gems to share with us all. She even helped us design our shop in Chinatown!
From mid-century modern to hawaii made decor, Maura works with her clients to create the space that speaks to them. Read on to hear more about her inspiration and her advice for decorating your own home.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’ve been in the business for almost 30 years. I was with a larger firm and then I went to a smaller interior design firm, before starting my own business in the late ‘90s. So, since then I’ve been an independent interior designer and do all kinds of jobs, like residential as well as offices, restaurants, retail, a variety...you know, never a dull moment.
Then in 2007, we opened our store Fishcake… We were looking for, I guess, interesting home decor. Being in Hawai‘i, it was very hard to find. This was before the internet really took off and you couldn’t order things so readily online.
Tell us more about the store!
At this point, Fishcake is mostly a combination of locally manufactured or locally made goods, like a lot of lighting, furniture… Art has also been a big part of Fishcake and we’ve had four or five shows a year these past 15 years.
Then, during the pandemic, someone donated a ceramic kiln, so we started firing mostly for our friends and customers who couldn’t fire because many of the kilns in our town had closed down… Now we have Fishschool, which is a ceramics studio combined with arts education.
So Fishcake has Fishschool, but we also have Fishcafe, which is like a chef incubator for different chefs, cooks, or even home cooks who are thinking about branching out into having a cafe, or a business, or a bakery. We have about seven different people who rotate in and out, so it’s been a really fun thing for us. We have all kinds of other vendors, too… a jewelry designer, a floral studio, another design shop… So yeah, we just have kind of a really interesting mini-mall going on here, a maker mall, if you will, along with the Fishschool and the cafe.
What would you consider to be your personal design style?
I feel that my design style is very eclectic, and the inspiration often comes from the client, and of course, what they want, what’s their intent, and how they want to use the space, but also it would be the space itself and the location. So I like to – it sounds a little corny – but I like to absorb the vibe if I can of whatever space we’re working on. That’s what inspires me.
How does life in Hawai‘i influence the pieces you choose?
I think maybe in a strange way Hawai‘i is very eclectic too. We have all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds, and we’re very art-oriented, but we’re very eclectic, too. We have a really fun community of all kinds of people that are contributing here at Fishcake. And so I would say a lot of the things and the people here also inspire my design.
I really enjoy doing workspaces. I guess before the pandemic, work had taken up a lot of time in people’s lives, so I always like doing offices that are homier. They feel really comfortable and a place where you want to hang out.
How can other people capture that island aesthetic in a natural way?
I think the idea is to have things that you really love to start with, then work around those things. As Marie Kondo says, you have to have things that bring joy. But also, I think having empty space is a good thing, too.
I think you can take inspiration from all kinds of places, so it could be the one piece that you build upon. It could also be the space itself. For instance, if there’s a window where I can see the full moon, this is where I’m going to put a chair. We are surrounded by so much natural beauty here in Hawai‘i.
I think whatever really draws you is a good thing. You want your own personal space to make you happy.
What’s your favorite piece in your home? And if you had no budget what home decor piece would you get?
Wow, that’s a hard question. There’s no one piece or one thing, it’s always changing. I have a few things I really like, but I tend to like vintage things, too. Like with Fishcake, not only do we have makers’ things, but we mix it up with vintage and modern, and classic mid-century.
How do you find a balance between the trendy and timeless?
I think again, you go with what you really like. And it’s okay to be trendy because you can always change it up. An interior space isn’t written in stone, so I think it’s fun to move things around and give something more prominence that wasn’t prominent before. I tend to ignore trendiness and work with pieces that are interesting… what my client might like.
We don’t have to be so married to one style. It can evolve.
Next time you’re in Honolulu, make sure to drop by Fishcake at 307c kamani st. Honululu, HI.