Q&A with Kaypee Soh, Hawaii Home Decor Designer
Innovator and branding expert Kaypee Soh is one of Hawaii’s most admired home decor designers. Since transplanting from NYC, where he handled advertising for giant brands, such as Tom Ford and Stella McCartney, Soh has built himself a cushiony home furnishing empire in Honolulu by seamlessly blending punchy tropical prints with structured, modern design.
Photos: David Croxford
Honolulu Shops: First off, your name is so fun to say. What does it mean?
Kaypee Soh: It’s a version of my given name, Kah Poi. I used my initials, KP, and spelled it a unique way, then added my last name, Soh.
HS: What inspires you?
KS: Many things—fashion, nature, organic elements of color, architecture, technology. Once, when I was in Japan, I walked into a grocery store and immediately was inspired by its packaging and the way it arranged fruits and vegetables. I went crazy with my camera and people were looking at me like who takes photos of can goods!
HS: And your prints?
KS: My fabric designs are primarily inspired by nature and my travels. Last year, after a visit to Doris Duke’s Shangri La, I became intrigued by ceramic tiles. Shortly after that I traveled to Malaysia and Bali, and everywhere I looked there was color, texture and pattern.
HS: Kaypee Soh must-have item?
KS: My pillows and artwork. They’re an easy and affordable way to change the whole look of a room!
HS: Which colors work best in a tropical-based home?
KS: Blues and greens are the most popular. They’re calming and soothing colors. I always recommend a little touch of coral to add energy.
HS: Anything new in the works?
KS: I’m working on a collection of silk scarves, tote bags and sundresses. People keep asking me to design T-shirts and beach wraps, so I’m slowly going to add lifestyle items with the same design appeal as my home decor.
HS: And on the home front?
KS: I’m working on a few new patterns that will be available this month. One collection that I’m really excited about is inspired by origami and Japanese culture. I’m also taking a few patterns from my previous collections and giving them fresh twists.
Best place to find a unique Island gift?
Owens and Co. is my favorite place to find the most unique, locally made cards, baby gifts and pet finds. 1152 Nuuanu Ave., 808-531-4300.
Your closet is filled with which local clothing line?
Reyn Spooner. I love how they’re adding modern cuts and designs to their offerings with their Modern Collection. Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, 808-923-7396.
You’re so busy! When you do have a moment, where do you go for a nice meal?
Right now, it’s Lucky Belly in Chinatown, followed by Morio’s Sushi Bistro, where you have to make a reservation six months in advance. Lucky Belly, 50 N. Hotel St., 808-531-1888. Morio’s Sushi, 1160-A S. King St., 808-741-5121.
Blabla dolls, small, $46; large, $60, Owens and Co.
Sunburst Tapa aloha shirt, $98, Reyn Spooner.