Thoroughly Modern J.P.

By Courtney Hollands | Boston Magazine |
From left, Nick Siemaska, Eric Portnoy, and Brent Refsland in their J.P. Shop. Photographs by Laura Barisonzi

that there was an appetite for modern design in Jamaica Plain.

So in May he put a Lucite-topped bench by Jane Miller on display at the art gallery he owns on South Street, Hallway Gallery.

The industrial stunner caught the eye of J.P. resident and design buff Eric Portnoy, who’d just been admiring the seat’s twin at J.E.M. in the South End. The two men instantly clicked, and soon after met up with Refsland’s friend Nick Siemaska to hash out plans for a home store — one showcasing fresh and emerging talent.

Moving quickly, the trio opened Room 68 on September 1, just 30 days after the space’s previous tenant, Dame, left. They redid the walls and floor, but left the gorgeous pressed-tin ceiling intact.   

Boston’s design community is well represented in the shop — Pelrine + Durrell, Debra Folz, Nervous System, and Susana DeVoe are all featured — but there are also items from places like Brooklyn and Paris. The common thread? “If it triggers our interest and we feel like it’s going to shock our clients, that’s what we want,” Refsland says.

The South End and Fort Point neighborhoods might be synonymous with cutting-edge local design, but these new business partners are convinced that J.P. is the place to be: “There’s a lot being created here, there are a lot of artists here,” Portnoy says. “Why shouldn’t this be the art and design destination of Boston?”  

68 South St., Jamaica Plain, 617-942-7425,

What’s in Store