Recipes in this Story
Sandy Beach Sunrise Smoothie
Lobster-Truffle Salad with Big Island Corn Pudding
Pan-seared Mahi Mahi with Eggplant Misoyaki
Haupia (Coconut Milk Pudding) with Fresh Fruit
Text by Krissa Rossbund
Photographs by Joe Schmelzer
Produced by Kyle Schuneman
When most of us think of Hawaii, we envision sun and sand. But the fabric of the beautiful islands is complex and varied, embracing mountains, rain forests, beaches, and looming volcanoes, all woven together with a multicultural population and a mélange of customs and traditions.
So when Honolulu designer Michelle Uchiyama gathered friends for a dinner party at a home she designed for a client, she wanted her tablescape to reflect the diversity of her state. "Hawaii is about layers and textures in nature and culture," says Michelle. "The table needed to have that vibe of bounty."
Set outdoors, the rectangular wood table was surrounded by intense natural color--a vibrant green lawn and the sea's aqua-colored water undulating into deep blue. To complement the surroundings, Michelle chose a striking yet soothing palette of whites, blues, and greens. A profusion of natural decorations on the table--coral and orchids, sand and shells--augmented the breathtakingly spectacular views.
The ensemble of dinnerware masterfully mixes materials and forms. On top of woven placemats, textured clear-glass chargers anchor wooden salad plates. Finishing the setting with a dramatic lift, oversized square bowls--with bases that nest perfectly into small salad plates--contribute style with their height and flared edges. Silver rings embellished with lustrous Tahitian pearls from the Pacific's South Seas secure green linen napkins.
Flanking a white rattan hurricane lantern with an open weave, two floral arrangements marry beach and garden motifs. For each arrangement, an inner vase supplying water to orchids and greenery is positioned inside a larger clear vessel. In the larger vase, black sand from the region's volcanoes is layered with beach sand to create a graphic ground for the flowers. To add to the feeling of lushness found in the islands' rain forests, additional adornments enhance the tablescape. Large pieces of white coral rest at the top of each place setting, with silver votive candles sparkling like the sun's glancing reflections off ocean waves. With enough heft to balance the sizable white soup bowls, wooden pineapples--symbols of island hospitality--are painted silver to serve as placecard holders.
"In Hawaii, the ocean always extends an invitation to dine outdoors," says Michelle. "Here, as guests of nature, we only have to travel as far as our own backyard."