Founded by artist Palapala (Barbara) Chung, Palapala Designs offers textile products ranging from pillow covers to purses. Barbara designs and carves original blockprints of Hawaiian motifs and subjects, combining them with contemporary form and function. Each item is carefully hand printed and sewn here on Maui, with each item created in short runs so availability and supplies are limited.
Barbara shared a little more about Palapala Designs in a recent interview:
Maui Made: How did you start this project?
Barbara Chung: I have danced the hula since I was a keiki and through hula one learns so much of the Hawaiian culture, to respect and honor all aspects of this special place we live. I wanted to use my art to celebrate the Hawaiian culture and through my information cards which come with most of my products, give those who may not know, a glimpse into this world.
MM: What are your most popular products and designs?
BC: All my designs and products seem to connect and appeal to kama’aina and visitors alike, but the most popular designs might be the Kalo (taro), Ulu (breadfruit), Ko’a (coral) and Honu (turtle).
MM: Where do you sell your products?
BC: I sell to stores in Maui, Oahu, Hawai’i (big island), Kaua’i and do several shows across the state, notably the prestigious Merrie Monarch Invitational Craft Fair, The Made in Hawai’i show, the Na Makua Invitational Christmas Fair and the Seabury Hall Craft Fair.
MM: What’s the key to success to be a crafter on Maui?
BC: The key to success in my business is having a handmade work of art that not only tells a story but is usable in the contemporary world. After drawing the artwork, carving the design and sewing the items, I personally sign most of the products because you are getting a one of a kind hand printed work of art. No two blockprints turn out exactly alike!
MM: Where can people buy your Designs?
BC: View my website for the list of retailers carrying my Designs, or come see me in person (call for studio times or set up appointment) at my design studio at 1993 South Kihei Road in the Island Surf Building.
I have a website which is set up like a gallery of pictures. There are no prices at this time as it is mainly for my store accounts, but anyone can contact me and order by email or phone. I hope to have an online store in the future.
MM: What’s next for you and Palapala Designs?
BC: My dream is to open a large store where modern meets traditional Hawaiian culture in a perfect blend of color and design.
Mahalo for your time, Barbara! Best of luck at the upcoming Made in Hawaii Festival, happening next month!