When I meet clients for the first time, and they ask where I find the materials seen in any of the homes I design, I tell them that I do everything in my power to ‘support local’ first. Supporting Local means using craftsman who are on-island to do electrical, carpentry, and tiling, as well only buying art from local artists, or supporting local businesses instead of Amazon. Living on an island means there are limited resources. If I had my job and worked in LA, Dallas, or Chicago for example, I would have a virtually unlimited number of craftsmen I could call, places I could buy furniture or rugs, and a huge variety of artists to select from. Not so on Maui. When I find a table, a painting, or a rug that is perfect and is on-island, I don’t hesitate
to immediately buy it. On an island, when you snooze you lose – forever. In a city on the mainland, if you snooze, you can find the same or a similar item at another resource down the road the next day.
What I have come to find over the past 15 years in Hawaii is that we have truly amazing artisans here. Maui has only a tenth the population of Oahu, and yet we have more artists-per-capita
than on any other island in the state. Artists are drawn to Maui to create and produce art — and for that I am grateful.
Yes, I resort to Amazon from time-to-time to get things not found here; and yes, I have all my upholstered furniture made on the mainland because no one in the islands makes sofas or chairs. But, I do everything in my power to support anyone here who is doing quality work or who has a good local business that has items that can be used in a Hawaiian home. I suppose I have done this my whole life without consciously thinking (as much as I do now) about what I was doing. For example, during the five years I lived in Italy, I realize now that I only bought art and items from local artisans. My Italian years were all spent in Florence, which has a similar bent of great artists too, like Maui, and so I drew on that. Supporting local also makes me feel more connected to the land, to the ‘aina’ as we say in Hawaii. Hanging a picture on the wall purchased from a big box store may initially look nice, but it rarely connects and grounds you to where you are. The volcanos that built these islands (and are still building them), have a grounding effect on virtually everyone who lives here. Supporting Local Artisans simply furthers that end. In this picture (in my own living room) hang famed oil painter Avi Kiriaty’s Sunday Market, celebrated big wave photographer Erik Aeder’s photo of a wave off Mama’s FishHouse, and a koa burned piece by the brilliant carpenter Radd Haferkamp.