Pacific Business News celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2013 by naming the top 25 businesses and top 25 people who influenced the state of Hawaii during that period. Among the executives honored was Mary Philpotts McGrath, 77, the founder of Philpotts Interiors.
She is credited for giving island “hotels, resorts, restaurants, offices and homes her special brand of style and a ‘sense of place’ by incorporating the culture and color of the islands” into her designs. The most significant island structures in the last 50 years have been touched by her influence.
Philpotts McGrath founded her first business, Creative Decorating, in the 1960s with partner, Allison Holland. On her own, she moved her business Philpotts & Associates to a space in downtown Honolulu where it flourished during the 1980s and 90s. In keeping with the times, Philpotts Interiors is now housed on School Street in a landmark LEED- certified green building. Here, she is joined by a top team of designers including family members Marion Philpotts-Miller and Jonathan Staub, designers Lowell Tom, a 30-year veteran, and Holly Boling Ruiz.
Some of their high profile projects include The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Disney AmaAma Restaurant, Tori Richard, Four Seasons Hualalai guest rooms, Fairmont Orchid guest rooms, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Kapalua Spa, TS Restaurants, Hokua, One Ala Moana among many others.
In 2010, she was named by Architectural Digest as one of the “20 Greatest Designers.” Her bestselling book, ”Hawaii: A Sense of Place,” outlines her design philosophy for blending timeless elements from East and West. Her interiors strive to break down the barriers between indoors and outdoors giving spaces a chance to breathe.
She now uses the downstairs space in the new building for a retail shop, PLACE, A Design Atelier by Philpotts, and has expanded next door to Le Jardin Galerie which features tropical plants, containers and the work of her many artist friends. She herself is a fine artist and printmaker.