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Originally from Indonesia, the bale (bah-lay) is hard to beat. Photo by Damon Ross

Masters of the House

by Kai Andersen, Margaret Kearns, Jon Letman, Catherine E. Toth and Shannon Wianecki | Modern Luxury Hawai'i magazine | September 6, 2012

Thanks to some local ingenuity, Hawai‘i homes are looking mighty fine. Here, our cheat sheet on the starchitects, interior innovators and daring creatives who are keeping the islands fresh.

Vanishing Act
Want to live like a rock star? Forget the hot wheels and jump into a pool—an infinity pool, to be precise. On Maui, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler recently dished out $4.8 million on one for his Kīhei home. Over on O‘ahu’s Wai‘alae Nui, home style expert Cathy Lee even installed one in her former residence. “For upscale residental properties, it’s never a question,” says Wendell Lee, president of Pacific AquaTech (682.1020,, which has outfitted homes with the liquid marvels. For those who’d rather find a house with its own infinite horizon built in, realtor Anne Oliver (292.2800, has taken the lead on hot pads with cool pools in Lanikai and elsewhere. These pools are the in-thing for young house hunters, she insists.

The Light Stuff
Mark Chai (markchaiarts.‌com) is making Hawai‘i a brighter place. Inspired by shapes in nature, his custom lamps shine as multifaceted works of art in their own right. (Chai, after all, is a sculptor and artist by trade.) To create his luminary bodies, he crafts every component to mathematical precision so that each piece interlocks elegantly. Those who’ve been touched by the light can make their pilgrimage to design mecca Fishcake (307C Kamani St., 593.1231,

Bale High!
Though a transplant to Hawai‘i, the bale (bah-lay) is hard to beat. Originally from hot and humid Indonesia, the simple, open-air gazebo-like structure is taking off in Hawai‘i. On Kaua‘i, creative design firm KUdéTA (828.0070, is now even building its own bale, using woods like red cedar on custom designs that are perfect poolside.

Want to read more about Hawaii's home design scene? Click here to read the full article featured in the Fall 2012 issue!