Hollow fish surfboard by Raja Badr-El-Din, 2019, with a lei by Hawaii Flora + Fauna
“We wanted our business to be more than a passion project,” says Holly Badr-El-Din, one half of the married duo behind Hāli‘imaile-based company JOHI Furniture & Design (hellojohi.com). She says they initially asked, “What would we bring to the table to interest and involve our communities in Hawai‘i and beyond? How would we build a solid foundation that honors craftsmanship and our resources, while making this type of work accessible and appealing to a wide range of people?”
The answer is a beautifully collected range of furniture, home decor and surf that Badr-El-Din runs with her husband, Raja. The offerings are not only pieces of art but made with intention, what they call “highlighting pieces that often get left behind.” Raja elaborates, “As a business owner in the 21st century, it is our responsibility to make environmentally conscious decisions when designing and fabricating our pieces. The materials, lifespan and end-of-life considerations are choices to be made, but with all that care, waste is an inevitable part of the trade. Whether they be small offcuts that get repurposed into home decor or wood shavings that end up in a sculpture, they are small reminders to us and our clients to keep true to that kuleana.”
Kumu sculpture made of ebonized wood, wood curls and an oak base by Raja Badr-El-Din, 2020
Raja’s skills lie in woodworking and product design, and Holly adds, “While craft is key to our business, our combined backgrounds in project management, development, marketing, research, multimedia design and creative technology really allow us to collaborate across all aspects of our work.” Their partnership is harmonious, with Holly admitting that “one of the most exciting and frustrating parts of working together is learning from each other.” The end result of well-crafted legacy pieces is a worthy endeavor, such as Raja’s favorite, the Allay lamp—“the light itself suspends wood shavings from the shop in a layer of resin, casting a warm glow”—and Holly’s favorites, the Hibal coffee table and award-winning Pohihi entry console, both featuring weaving that impacts the duo on a cultural level. They hope to expand their workspace in the near future into a workshop-showroom, so you can shop the pieces in person and connect with the artisans.
Mabroom side table made of red oak, Maui monkeypod, beech curls and tinted EcoPoxy resin by Raja Badr-El-Din, 2019
Photography by: Courtesy of brand