2023 Sustainable Design Award: Philpotts Interiors and de Reus Architects


Even before sustainability goals were factored in, a project located on the south shore of Maui presented a full programmatic agenda for Philpotts Interiors and de Reus Architects. The strikingly contemporary new-build residence is designed to support the multigenerational recreation and work needs of active clients, plus a rooftop wellness and meditation rooftop area—all within what would be a net-zero and LEED Silver–certified structure.

The oceanfront four-bedroom, four-bath Coral House ultimately demonstrates “the idea of taking the DNA of a place, and the fusion of culture and craftsmanship,” says Marion Philpotts-Miller, principal of Honolulu-based Philpotts Interiors. These values have to be balanced with questions that guide environmental sustainability concerns. Features like effective insulation, stormwater management and photovoltaic solar panels are key tools, but an astonishing site calls for elevated aesthetics that honor its singular beauty.

The fusion blue granite island and other kitchen surfaces quietly express an ocean-inspired color story. That contrastingly cool element complements extensive millwork that includes locally and sustainably sourced ohia wood cabinetry. Counter stools are from A. Rudin. Photography by Travis Rowan.

“The home’s architecture is both contemporary and casual, befitting its coastal neighborhood, intended family use and a less-is-better approach that results in a minimalist aesthetic and restraint,” says Mark de Reus, founding partner of de Reus Architects. The horizontally oriented home sits gently on the land, with pocketing doors at the ground level that bring the indoors out, and vice versa, along with durable and context-sensitive features such as coral stone walls and aluminum brise-soleil screens. A lava-stone-clad infinity pool appears to slip into the horizon line. Neutral tones are serene and respectful of context, while the cool fusion blue granite used in the kitchen and the open-plan great room connects the interiors to the ocean and flows “as one color story,” Philpotts-Miller explains. The green roof at the set-back second level supports yoga and meditation practices and is in visual conversation with the landscape.

The lava-rock-clad infinity pool merges with the ocean view as seen from the lanai. Janus et Cie Amari chairs surround a Stone Yard table. Golden Sienna travertine flooring used throughout the shared spaces in the great room establishes a continuous thread, further connecting indoors and out. Photography by Travis Rowan.

The team has to be additionally mindful of environmental impacts throughout the design decision-making and building process when working in a remote location like the Hawaiian Islands. Thankfully, Philpotts Interiors draws from its extensive experience in the region and longstanding relationships with vendors and makers. Minimizing waste is a priority, and “the clients’ design direction helped us to use locally sourced woods,” Anne Tanaka, a senior designer, says. Custom furnishings and millwork details executed with local woods, including mango, monkeypod and ohia, have an intense richness behind every application, whether it’s the powder room vanity or the dining table fabricated by Maui Custom Woodworks. “We were able to design some beautiful things,” Philpotts-Miller says. Benches and coffee tables crafted from teak roots, for instance, pass another crucial sustainability test in that they are made to last. “Those pieces will be in that family for a long time,” she adds.