Mary Philpotts McGrath Interior Designer and President, Philpotts & Associates, Inc.
Interior Designer Mary Philpotts McGrath has a style readily recognized for its richness of materials and connection to the Hawaiian environment. Whether it's a luxury resort on one of the Neighbor Islands or a hilltop home in Honolulu, she and her designers always attempt to remind you of where you are.
As the founder and inspiration behind Hawaii's premier interior design firm, Philpotts McGrath has always tried to reconnect people with what they already know. When she's working on a luxury hotel on the Big Island, a corporate office on Bishop Street, or an extensive project in Thailand, she looks for the essence in any project and reinterprets it with simplicity and clarity.
"My work is not to decorate, design and detail . . . it's to reconnect people with their surroundings wherever I go," says Philpotts McGrath.
She was fortunate to have studied art at the University of Hawaii during what is often considered the school's "golden age." Among her mentors were respected scholars Kenneth Kingrey, Betty (Tseng Yu-Ho) Ecke and Jean Charlot. It was where she learned the importance of combining elements of both the East and West with Hawaii's open-air lifestyle, creating a unique "sense of place" in her work. This was further strengthened by her association with Hawaiian scholar and author, George Kanahele during the planning of the Hawaii Convention Center.
Her deep roots in Hawaii and her affection for all things Hawaiian, combined with a keen, universal sense of appropriateness and style have won her firm such high profile projects as the Hawaii Convention Center, W Honolulu (formerly the Colony Surf), Molokai Ranch Lodge, The Courtyards at Punahou, Kapiolani Medical Center, The Villas at Koele and The Bluffs at Mauna Kea, as well as numerous private residences.
Each time, her design philosophy of creating timeless, people-friendly environments is applied to the spaces she creates. She's active in many civic and community organizations including the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Friends of Washington Place, Friends of Iolani Palace, the Mayor's Advisory Committee for Historic Preservation, and the Downtown Task Force on Homelessness.
Philpotts & Associates designed spaces have been featured in publications such as Honolulu Magazine, Architectural Digest, Metropolitan Home and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Philpotts McGrath also directed an islands-wide search and documentation over a three-year period of Hawaiian furniture and cabinet makers, which resulted in an important book on the subject, (Hawaiian Furniture and Hawaii's Cabinetmakers by Irving Jenkins). Her new book with freelance writer Kaui Philpotts and photographer David Duncan Livingston, titled "Hawaii: A Sense of Place," (Mutual Publishing) on bookshelves in October 2005.
This Fall she debuts an original line of koa furniture entitled the "Mary Philpotts Collection" with premier Hawaii furniture makers Martin & MacArthur. For information on the furniture line, contact (808) 845-6688.
“My work is not to decorate, design and detail... It's to reconnect people with their surroundings wherever I go.” -Mary Philpotts McGrath