Finding Nirvana

Home-décor curator Kevin McPherson searches for inspiration everywhere he goes.

Kevin McPherson

photograph by michael piazza

Kevin McPherson has made a career of his vagabond tendencies. The perennial globetrotter and his former business partner, John Mohr, opened up their eponymous home-goods boutique in 1990 as an excuse to travel the world in search of antiques and handcrafted treasures. Fast-forward two decades, and Mohr & McPherson’s one-of-a-kind goods—sourced from places like China, India, and Japan—now fill a 20,000-square-foot space in the South End.

With no signs of stopping, McPherson—now the sole owner of the store—plans to open another outpost in Thailand with space for product development, while his son Callum takes a larger role in running the Boston business. Ahead, McPherson shares some of the things that inspire his exquisite taste. 

Japanese Tansu

Japanese tansu Image via Shutterstock

Traditional Crafts

More than 20 years ago, I decided to travel to see what was being made in the world that was not available in Boston. I met people in India, Japan, China, Morocco, the Philippines, Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, and many other places who made or sold some fantastic things. Hand-knotted rugs and Japanese tansu (cabinets) were two of the things that moved me.

My Triumph Bonneville Motorcycle

Nothing beats the thrill, followed by the relaxed feeling, that I get when I take a few hours and head into New Hampshire on that motorcycle.

courtesy of bodega (sneakers)

courtesy of bodega


My son Callum and I visit this Back Bay shop as often as we can. It’s hard to walk out without a hat or a new pair of sneakers.

Ryuichi Sakamoto

He’s my favorite composer. His music can be difficult if things are not going well in your life—but you’re reminded that you are not the only one.

Japanese Noodles

Japanese Noodles Image via Shutterstock


I eat in Chinatown often. The Hong Kong Eatery, on Harrison Avenue, is very real. Noodle soup with salted chicken and wontons calls me back about once a week. I love to eat at the hip South End places, too, like Cinquecento and B & G Oysters, but Chinatown is more relaxing for me.


On File

What I’m listening to

Lots of ’60s pop and country music in bars and restaurants in Chiang Mai. They love old American music more than we do. Johnny Cash is alive and well in Thailand.

What I’m reading 

Re-reading some Papa Hemingway. Right now, The Old Man and the Sea. 

What I’m drinking 

I drank my life’s allotment of alcohol before I turned 25, so my favorite drinks are fresh lemon soda and strong Thai coffee. 

What I’m wearing 

It’s hard to dress up where I’m living now, but when I do, I wear clothes I bought from Drinkwater’s, in Cambridge. It is the best men’s clothing shop in the Boston area. 

What I’m eating 

Spicy Thai food, including some stranger things. I’ve had ant eggs cooked in strong broth with a green vegetable. I’ve also eaten crickets without irony.

Where I’m traveling 

I dream of an excuse to go to Italy.