Back in 2004, I co-founded an art gallery / nightspot, thirtyninehotel, with fellow SFAI grad Gelareh Khoie and music maestro DJ Harvey. It was Gelareh’s baby, and I came on board before the doors opened. We hacked it out of the brush with a machete and a pack of cigarettes. Sleeping in the raw space for a month as we built out almost everything by hand.
We had next to no budget, so everything we did was on the fly and from the hip. From the furniture to the marketing and the entertainment. We really didn’t know what we were doing, but somehow we managed to open a space that people loved right from the start. That’s not to say that we were packed every night from day one. Or that we were making money hand over fist. What I mean to say is that everyone that came there loved it. We loved it too. It was our mainland fix in a place otherwise saturated with tiki bars and surfer dudes. Today, it remains a fixture of Honolulu nightlife.
To the point: I helped guide the aesthetic of thirtyninehotel throughout the early years, from the flyers to the website and the general look of the space. The deck on the lanai, the inside bar, and the benches are actually my designs.
Kind of an amusing factoid… thirtyninehotel was rated as Playboy Online’s A-List “America’s Best Rooftop Bars”. Guess whose benches are front and center?
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