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Island Chic

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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Photo: David Croxford

Leighton Lam

Paradise Lights, copper light fixtures

What started out as frustration over a lack of locally made light fixtures turned into a profitable business for Leighton Lam. Lam and his wife, Lani, were nearing completion on their three-story custom home and studio for Lam’s jewelry line, but they fruitlessly hunted for Island-themed outdoor entryway lights. “None [of the lights we saw] felt Hawaiian enough,” says Lam. “So, being an artist, I thought, ‘I’ll just make my own.’”

His first light-fixture designs were of heliconias and waves, and, after friends and contractors pressed him to make lights for their homes as well, he seized the opportunity and created Paradise Lights in 1992. 

While Lam says the complete process for making the lights is a trade secret, he starts by creating detailed drawings of the different design elements of each light. The drawings are then transferred in a metal cutting process to create a design template. The designs are cut into copper, brass, aluminum or stainless steel—copper being the most popular. “We want the lights to last forever. Copper will last longer than any metal in Hawaii,” says Lam. To get the green effect of the lights, Lam uses an industrial-based exterior paint, and, for an aged look, simply puts the fixtures in his swimming pool for three days.

Paradise Lights come in five different designs, each created with a left and right side. The fixtures are sold as a set for $680 or a single side for $350 and come in three different sizes, with a fourth size scheduled to be available soon. 4974 Poola St., 373-3317, www.paradiselights.com.


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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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