Art doesn’t always have to hang on a wall or sit on a shelf. It can tell time, block the afternoon sun, keep you warm or serve pupu for a party. Meet 10 Island artisans who create stunning, functional pieces for the home.
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David Reisland Fine Furniture, wood furniture
David Reisland comes from five generations of woodworkers, including a great-great grandfather who was a craftsman in Germany. Reisland started with a career in construction before turning to furniture exclusively in 1986. Two years later he moved from the Mainland to Hawaii; the Big Island has been his home and inspiration ever since. “I pick up ideas from everywhere,” says Reisland. “In architecture, plants, Japanese décor, you name it.” He starts off creating a small-scale sketch of his idea, and then draws it full scale on cardboard with chalk to balance out the front and side dimensions. The rest of the process entails what he calls “wingin’ it.”
“I rarely do detailed blueprints [of the piece],” he says. “I start itching to work with the wood.” He's created everything from dining room sets, to office desks and chairs, to headboards and entertainment centers—the majority made with local koa and mango wood and ranging in price from $3,200 to $20,000. “The wood tells me what to do, its inclusions or special marks give me ideas, especially with koa.” His work has won awards at the Hawaii Forestry Industry Association’s annual wood shows.
Among Reisland’s specialties are his custom jewelry cabinets. “I created them in response to women’s needs for a place for their extensive amounts of jewelry,” he laughs. He notes that the average jewelry box never seems to hold all the jewelry many women acquire, not to mention in an orderly fashion. So Reisland designed a 5-foot-tall cabinet on legs with enough space for necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets, starting at $7,000. 87-459 Kaohe Mauka Road, Captain Cook, 808-328-1500, www.davidreisland.com.
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