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Environment: Clearly Beloved

A Honolulu-made kayak makes it all the way to New York’s art scene.


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There’s a little bit of Hawai‘i hanging in New York— and for the sake of millions of New Yorkers suffering through a long, gloomy winter, hopefully it’s brought with it a little sunshine.

Clear Blue Hawai‘i, a Honolulu-based boat company that specializes in clear crafts, will have its Clear Blue Hawai‘i kayak on display at New York’s Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for seven months beginning this month. The kayak, which is clear, was selected earlier this year for the museum’s 2006 “National Design Triennial: Design Life Now,” an exhibit that presents the most innovative designs of the past three years, everything from fabulous furniture to state-of-the-art shoes to affordable robots.

Clear Blue Hawai‘i’s Napali kayak is one of 87 designs chosen for the exhibit. The Napali was placed in the “emulating life” category (the other categories are community, hand-crafted and do-it-yourself design), for its ability to put a rider so physically and visibly in the water. “It is a beautiful object—simple, yet elegant—taking advantage of new materials and usage; it folds up to be carried on the user’s back … it truly gives the viewer the sense of being both part of the ocean life below, and the surface and world above,” says Barbara J. Bloemink, Ph.D., curatorial director of the museum.

photo: courtesy of Clear Blue Hawai‘i

While designer Murray Broom of New Zealand originally crafted the clear kayak to show off the inner workings of his regular kayaks, since its debut on the market three years ago, the Napali has been showered with much praise and attention. It was chosen as one of Time magazine’s “Coolest Inventions of 2003” and Fortune magazine’s “Best 25 Products of the Year,” among others.

Clear Blue Hawai‘i’s Brian Woolford says the Napali should inspire and “motivate young people to create original products.” He’s thrilled that it is on display at the Cooper-Hewitt because such an exhibit “encourages artistic success. It’s tremendous.”

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