Designer in Profile: Lowell Tom, CEO of Philpotts Interiors

Name: Lowell Tomlowell_tom_0002r2
Company: Philpotts Interiors
Position within company: CEO, Partner
Website: Philpotts Interiors


. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I attended University of Hawaii’s School of Architecture. During that time, I worked for Mary Philpotts at Philpotts Interiors learning about the nuances of interior design and a bit of interior architecture. After graduating, I moved to San Francisco where I worked for a couple different interior architects. Upon returning to Hawaii several years later, I went back to work with Philpotts and the rest is history.


. How would you describe your personal design style?
Eclectic, found, and artisanal are three words that broadly cover my personal design style. However, the nuances of that style are constantly evolving and never static. These evolutions may stem from my personal preferences at any given point in my life, but most importantly, my style for a particular project always reflects the needs, interests and personality of my client. Lastly, I like to balance aesthetics with function.


. Where does your design inspiration come from?
For me, there’s no one source of inspiration – it comes from a wide array of places. But most influentially, the people and culture of Hawaii are highly inspirational. I enjoy weaving the natural, cultural, artistic and architectural qualities of my home state.


. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Design is becoming more and more international but regionalism, especially in Hawaii, will always be important. I also see design becoming more technical and more architectural – it’s not just about decorating anymore.


. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2017 and beyond.
1. Experience the world
2. Think global
3. Be innovative
4. It is all about design
5. Enjoy the process


. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
Stay up to date with technology

. How important are The International Hotel and Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
The IHPA awards are important because they provide an international stage on which design firms can show their work. The programme is new to our firm, but we look forward to participating in the future.


. What projects are you currently working on?
Ritz Carlton Kapalua, Queen Kapiolani Hotel, Royal Hawaiian Hotel Monarch Ballroom, Sheraton Waikiki Ballroom and Meeting Rooms, Kainani Villas at Kukuiula


. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
To push the envelope in design while finding joy and creativity in the design process.


. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself

Your most treasured possession?
There’s a custom wood carved lamp that I remember seeing in my late grandmother’s home as a child. The lamp’s design always resonated with me. Today, I see it in my aging mother’s home, and I look forward to keeping it in the family. I guess it is nostalgic now as it reminds me of the stylish nature of her home that was different than other people’s homes.
Your favourite holiday destination?
Paris, because I feel that as many times as I’ve been there, the discovery process is always new. There are so many visual things there that can be discovered over and over again – yet there are always new things culturally, aesthetically, and architecturally.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
The Peninsula in Hong Kong. It’s not about luxury, it’s about a place steeped in tradition juxtaposed with modern design sensibilities.
Your favourite book / film / song?
Liaigre because everyone should be able to experience paradise in one form or another.
Your favourite food and drink?
Anything that was prepared by my late grandmother. Whether American or Chinese cuisine, I loved it because it was so clearly prepared with joy.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Making time to have a nap.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would have loved to be a movie set designer.

Philpotts Interiors