Philpotts Interiors Celebrates Hawaiian Culture, Authenticity and its Own Legacy Through These Unique Hospitality Environments

by | Jun 6, 2021 | Architecture, Architecture - Interior Design

Honolulu, United States

Philpotts Interiors

The foundation of the Philpotts Interiors’ design philosophy is to create a “sense of place” inspired by Hawai’i’s unique island aesthetic.

Honolulu, United States, 2021-06-04  

As one of Hawaiʻi’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 Hawaiʻi 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.   

“Hoʻi ka ʻoʻopu ʻai lehua i ka māpunapuna”, a Hawaiian proverb that translates to “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 ʻāina, which is Hawaiian for “land.” 

FOUR SEASONS KO ‘OLINATaking color inspiration from Lanikuhonua, the team introduced an array of warm furnishings and artwork that offer casual tropical elegance and character to the lobby.
Photo credit: Christian Horan

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.

FOUR SEASONS KO ‘OLINA
Philpotts Interiors opened the building up to the sparkling beachfront and expanded a large lobby wall with a new coffee and cocktail bar and added a new deck where guests can relax and watch the sunset.


Sunset made perfect at The Hōkūleʻa.
Photo credit: Christian Horan

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

Image 1:

RITZ-CARLTON KAPALUA
Giving reverence to culture, heritage and landscape, Philpotts Interiors curated a fresh and contemporary art program using every-day Hawaiian cultural artifacts. Renowned local artists, inspired by the islands, were used throughout the guestrooms, suites and residences contributing to the design’s emphasis on artfulness and authenticity.

Artist: John Koga
Photo credit: Mariko Reed

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RITZ-CARLTON KAPALUA

Cultural details throughout the property further honor Hawaiʻi, past present and future.
Photo credit: Mariko Reed

RITZ-CARLTON KAPALUA
Colors were plucked from the island landscape to create a distinct sense of place: delicate sand, calming azure blue and deep green reflect the ocean and lush flora. Eyes are drawn to works from local artists and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the mountains and ocean.
Photo credit: Mariko Reed

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 (Kapolei, Oʻahu) 

FOUR SEASONS KO ‘OLINATaking color inspiration from Lanikuhonua, the team introduced an array of warm furnishings and artwork that offer casual tropical elegance and character to the lobby.
Photo credit: Christian Horan
FOUR SEASONS KO ‘OLINA
The bar at Noe, Southern Italian Restaurant was designed to effortlessly blend into the island-influenced design aesthetic.
Photo credit: Christian Horan
FOUR SEASONS KO ‘OLINAThe timeless and casual suites evoke a residential feel due to Philpotts Interiors’ sophisticated touch.
Photo credit: Christian Horan
FOUR SEASONS KO ‘OLINAThe guest rooms connect to the spirit of the Hawaiian outdoors with banana bark wall coverings, jute-inspired carpets and selected works by local artists.
Photo credit:Christian Horan
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 65565-full_2757-22_65565_sc_v2com-1-1024x683.jpg
FOUR SEASONS KO ‘OLINA
Philpotts Interiors opened the building up to the sparkling beachfront and expanded a large lobby wall with a new coffee and cocktail bar and added a new deck where guests can relax and watch the sunset.
Sunset made perfect at The Hōkūleʻa.
Photo credit: Christian Horan

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 ʻOlina. 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) 

HOTEL WAILEA THE BIRDCAGE BAR

The design team took inspiration from the glamour and essence of bars and restaurants in New York City and cosmopolitan cities in Europe to create a timeless and alluring lounge.
Photo credit: Travis Rowan

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HOTEL WAILEA THE BIRDCAGE BAR

Luxury meets tropical in the decadent space fitted with natural teak wood bar stools, opulent velvet and faux Crocodile leather tufted sofas and black marble tables and more.
Photo credit: Travis Rowan

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HOTEL WAILEA THE BIRDCAGE BAR

Jewel-toned textiles, bold prints and textures along with eclectic furnishings such as peacock chairs and bird feet tables, set an enchanting feel.
Photo credit: Travis Rowan

As Hawaiʻi’s first Relais & Châteaux 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 (Waikiki, Oʻahu)

Philpotts Interiors approached the renovation of The Royal Hawaiian — Hawaiʻi’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 Hawaiʻi. 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 (Waikiki, Oʻahu) 

QUEEN KAPIʻOLANI HOTEL

Open and light-filled, the lobby greets guests with a cool, casual atmosphere. The hotel’s mid-century heyday is celebrated with artwork evoking the era such as old advertisements, surf images, Hawaiian prints and posters.
Photo credit: Olivier Koning
QUEEN KAPIʻOLANI HOTEL

The hotel is now once again a vibrant property featuring a laid back elegance.
Photo credit: Olivier Koning
QUEEN KAPIʻOLANI HOTEL
The third floor pool deck and restaurant command panoramic views of Diamond Head, Kapiolani Park and Waikiki beach.
Photo credit: Olivier Koning

The Queen Kapiʻolani 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. 

About Philpotts Interiors (@phillpottsinteriorsphilpotts.net

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.

For more information

  1.  www.philpotts.net/

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