Designer Crush: Philpotts Interiors


Since the 1960s, Philipotts Interiors has curated idyllic residential and hospitality projects that further connect people to the historic roots of Hawaiian culture. Founded by Mary Philpotts McGrath, the mission was to celebrate the surrounding nature through artistry and design. Now with Marion Philpotts-Miller, Lowell Tom, Holly Boling Ruiz and Jonathan Staub at the helm, Philpotts Interiors continues the firm’s legacy by designing some of the most iconic spaces throughout Hawaii and beyond. Here, we chat with Marion Philpotts-Miller and her core design team Kristie Kiggins, Avery Solmssen and Anne Tanaka to uncover more about their craft and what’s on the horizon.

The Birdcage Bar, Hotel in Wailea, Maui. Photo by Travis Rowan.

Your work is rooted in Hawaii but has a more modern than regional feel. How would you describe your aesthetic? We try to adapt the owner’s vision and personal inspirations as they relate to the environment. We select palettes and design elements that best showcase the client’s vision while telling a story in a one-of-a-kind way that celebrates the power of Hawaiian culture along with appropriateness.

Being the firm launched in 1960, how have you continued to adapt with changing times while maintaining the core values of the business. Craftsmanship and artistry are the foundation set by our founder Mary Philpotts. She coined the phrase, “Sense of place,” and instilled a respect for culture and environment that is still paramount to the firm. We continue to pay reverence to this value system and authentically move the needle forward to create designs that are both relevant and current today.

Your firm works on both residential and hospitality projects. Which category is more inspiring for your teams and why? We feel both residential and hospitality are uniquely inspiring. Through the lens of our residential work we have been able to enhance our hospitality portfolio by applying elements of residential design. By layering in curated art and accessories, our design insights, typically used in our residential practice, enhance and elevate our hospitality projects.

·      Kolomuo Residence. Photo by Matthew Millman.

What are the biggest challenges of working in Hawaii? Being so isolated and remote, we have limited resources for building materials in Hawaii, which results in our need to import. Our clients face more expense and longer lead times. As such, we have had to adjust client expectations and deliverables. And we have cultivated strong overseas relationships with craftspeople in Bali and Mexico who create many of our own custom designs.

Which iconic architects/designers inspire the firm’s design direction the most? Of yester-year, Charles Dickey, Hart Wood and Vladimir Ossipoff. Today, de Reus Architects, Walker Warner Architects and Zak Architecture.

A kitchen in the Kolomuo Residence. Photo by Matthew Millman.

How did your business shift during the pandemic? The pandemic has stretched us to work that much harder on procuring materials and pivoting our way of thinking. Our internal and external work process shifted to accommodate procurement delays and customer / designer collaborations. Interior architectural decisions are happening at the same time of furniture and fabric sequences. We’re a tactile business and needed to figure out a way to handle the people side and safety protocols while bringing the same showroom experience and excitement to the process.

Interiors in a home in Jupiter, Florida. Photo by Brittany Godbee.

Do you have any new products or exciting projects on the horizon? Hotel Wailea! For this project, we implemented a whimsical, playful design along with custom resourced fabrics and furniture from Bali that all make the hotel’s Birdcage Lounge both popular and successful. We look forward to working on future expansions with Hotel Wailea.


Marion Philpotts-Miller
Designer Kristie Kiggins
Designer Avery Solmssen 
Anne Tanaka

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