Woodworking with Honolulu Furniture Co.

Hawaiiana Furniture: A local furniture company brings Hawaiiana into the 21st century.

photos: david croxford

For Douglas Gordon and Thorben Wuttke, the furniture design process starts with the wood.

"It all started with a table,” says Thorben Wuttke. An award-winning koa slab table, to be exact. Designed by Wuttke and Douglas Gordon, the table won the artists’ choice award at the Hawaii WoodShow in 2010. Sitting at that table afterwards, the duo began a conversation about a joint furniture venture. With styles as distinct as their backgrounds—Wuttke with an eye for modern design and Gordon with a classic aesthetic—they combined their visions and this April opened a workshop and showroom called the Honolulu Furniture Co.

Wuttke had already made a name for himself locally when, as a former employee of Re-use Hawaii, he began designing furniture around re-purposed materials. A dresser, for example, is built with lumber from a deconstructed home, the nail holes a reminder of the living history of the piece. When he teamed up with Gordon, the former vice president of production at Martin & MacArthur, the two decided to fill a gap in the Hawaii marketplace. “Some days I feel like a relic. There are only a few shops that are doing locally made furniture,” says Gordon.

Located in Kakaako, Honolulu Furniture Co. showcases four lines of furniture styles, with most pieces custom-made to order. The Classic line features traditional koa and monkeypod pieces, Forward Thinking lets Wuttke get creative with reclaimed building materials, Commercial includes pieces for UH Saunders Hall and the new Prima Pizzaria in Kailua, and Contemporary is where the two push the boundaries of Hawaiiana.

Evoking 1930s Hawaii with monkeypod.

The duo is on a mission to keep their company grounded on sustainable principles. They utilize locally sourced materials and give clients options such as nontoxic finishes. Monkeypod, which grows in abundance throughout the Islands, is their wood of choice. “We’re moving away from koa, which is overdone and not as available anymore,” explains Gordon, “and the termites don’t like monkeypod.” The best part about staying local? “People can come down and watch the progress of their piece,” Wuttke says. 527 Cummins St., 597-9193, honolulufurniturecompany.com.