Philpotts Interiors celebrates Hawaiian culture through these hospitality environments

08 Jun 2021

Founding designer, Mary Philpotts-McGrath, drew upon her island home’s rich heritage, landscape, and spirit to create iconic and memorable designs—something the firm continues to do today under the helm of Philpotts-McGrath's daughter, Marion Philpotts-Miller.

Philpotts Interiors celebrates Hawaiian culture through these hospitality environments

Founded in the 1960s, Honolulu-based Philpotts Interiors is known for infusing great design with island culture and creating a true sense of place for its residential and commercial clients. Founding designer, Mary Philpotts-McGrath, drew upon her island home’s rich heritage, landscape, and spirit to create iconic and memorable designs—something the firm continues to do today under the helm of Philpotts-McGrath's daughter, Marion Philpotts-Miller.

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As one of Hawaii’s most renowned interior design firms, Philpotts Interiors brings a deep respect for the traditions and culture of its beautiful island home to each unique hospitality project. Founder Mary Philpotts-McGrath’s design ethos was to connect those visiting Hawaii with a “sense of place,” celebrating how the island’s temperate climate and environment allow for harmonious living. Today, the second and third generations of the firm, led by Mary’s daughter, Marion Philpotts-Miller, Lowell Tom, and Holly Boling Ruiz, follow in Mary’s footsteps by continuing the legacy of her design imprint by conveying the authenticity of their home — a melding of cultures and natural elements pulled from Asia, the South Pacific and U.S. Mainland.

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A Hawaiian proverb “going back to the source,” offers endless inspiration to the team. Hospitality work provides the firm the chance to authentically represent Hawaiian culture and history to island visitors, through the incorporation of regionally significant design elements, local art, and artifacts. Indigenous and endemic hardwoods, stone, grasscloth, and textured fabric, along with custom furniture and culturally significant artwork by artists such as Pegge Hopper — whom Philpotts Interiors helped introduce to international audiences — are all carefully curated to connect hotel guests to the Aina, which is Hawaiian for “land.”

From her earliest work, Philpotts-McGrath always delivered the gift of aloha to her projects and to her clients. Whether it's lei, art, furniture, or native plants and grasses, incorporating local elements and craftsmanship into a meeting or introduction is just as important as introducing it into public spaces where visitors gather. Authentic storytelling through design has always been a priority for the firm.

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua residences and guest rooms (Kapalua, Maui)

Philpotts Interiors refreshed the AAA Five-Diamond Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s Residences and Guest Rooms with the goal of elevating the guest experience through contemporary Hawaiian design. The residences and guest rooms infuse the signature Ritz-Carlton sophistication with contemporary furnishings and the authenticity of the place. The reimagined finishes and furnishings draw inspiration from the hotel’s unique surroundings — from the earthy tones of Maui’s lush mountains and rainforests to the azure blues of the ocean. The color palette is then complemented by rich hardwoods that mix seamlessly with the elegant new furnishings to create living spaces that feel sophisticated and regal, yet casually livable.

Four Seasons Ko 'Olina 

Originally designed by Edward Killingsworth in 1993 as the JW Marriott Ihilani and adjacent to the historic royal property, Lanikuhonua, Philpotts Interiors, as part of a team, transformed the aging property into the vibrant, graceful Four Seasons Resort Ko Olina. With a goal of elevating the hotel’s quality to the level of luxury the brand is synonymous with, the team created a more residential scale and character while celebrating the famous warmth of Hawaiian hospitality.

Hotel Wailea the Birdcage Bar (Wailea, Maui)

As Hawaii’s first Relais & Chateaux luxury, adults-only resort overlooking Maui’s southern coastline, Hotel Wailea is a truly unique property. Philpotts Interiors designed the hotel’s new bar and lounge, The Birdcage Bar. Philpotts collaborated with longtime partner, founder Jonathan McManus to appropriately enhance the large, previously underutilized lobby. Inside the aptly named space, where birds regularly flutter in and out, large, custom-designed, cage-like light fixtures set the tone, while a hand-crafted bar by Maui Custom Woodworks activates the space. The team took inspiration from the glamour and essence of bars and restaurants in New York City and Europe's most cosmopolitan cities to create a timeless and alluring lounge. Jewel-toned textiles, bold prints, and textures along with eclectic furnishings, such as peacock chairs and bird feet tables, set an enchanting feel.

The Royal Hawaiian Resort 

Philpotts Interiors approached the renovation of The Royal Hawaiian — Hawaii’s iconic “pink palace” —with its characteristic “sense of place” approach. The team drew inspiration from the hotel’s luxurious heritage and signature style and created a bridge between old and new Waikiki with stunning interiors that provide guests with memorable experiences and connections to Hawaii. The thrill of arrival felt by visitors during the Waikiki of yesteryear is recreated by welcoming public spaces, while the warmth of the hotel’s iconic pink exterior is drawn inward using lavish standards and classic forms. The design team capitalized on recognizable hallmarks of the region and included a feature wall with an enlarged pineapple motif symbolizing Hawaiian hospitality, art of native flora, and original architectural drawings of the hotel to make the experience exclusive to the Royal Hawaiian.

Queen Kapi' Olani Hotel 

The Queen Kapi olani Hotel, an iconic local hotel, built during the mid-century Waikiki visitor industry boom, was definitely showing the stress of its years. Philpotts Interiors saw the hotel renovation as an opportunity to create a more engaging and active street-level experience, connect the hotel to the park, long known for recreation and gatherings with views of Diamond Head, and celebrate its mid-century Hawaiian cultural connection. The design team immediately created an open-air lobby, complete with a café and extended lanai space that is the hotel's signature Deck Bar & Grill where visitors and locals will enjoy the most pristine views, cocktails, and live music. The café design draws inspiration from Waikiki’s traditional fishing history with a hook-shaped bar and seafaring motifs.

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