Mark Chai

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Mark Chai in 2008
"Heliconia" sculpture, New York Botanical Garden, night
"Heliconia" sculpture

Mark Chai (born in Honolulu) is a Native Hawaiian sculptor who designs and handcrafts fine woods and recycled materials into modern lamps, sculpture, large installations and furniture.[1]

His handcrafted modern lamps have been featured in Dwell,[2] the New Yorker,[3] House Beautiful [4], and Home[5] magazines, as well as in Wallpaper* magazine’s Honolulu City Guide,[6]. His work is also seen in Travel & Leisure,[7] and Modern Luxury Hawaii,[8].

The New York Botanical Garden commissioned Chai's "Heliconia" monumental stainless steel sculpture as part of its Georgia O'Keeffe Hawaii retrospective in 2018.[9]

Three of Chai's sculptures are prominently displayed in the lobby of Disney's Aulani Hotel on Oahu.[10] Honolulu magazine named him one of Hawaii’s hottest designers.[11] Three of his lamps were featured in the Honolulu Museum of Art’s 2016-17 year-long exhibit, “Hawaii in Design.”[12] A dozen of his lamps appeared in the Hawaii season of the television show, “Real World.” [13] Two of Chai's sculptures of recycled plastic were purchased by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and displayed in the Hawaii State Art Museum.[14]

His custom wooden lamps light Chef Ed Kenney's restaurants town, Kaimuki Superette, and Mahina & Sun's,[8][15] and Art After Dark at the Honolulu Museum of Art.[16]

Chai says his inspirations are childhood memories of the play of light and shadow in glowing camp fires on the beach, moonlight shining through the leaves of palm trees, and watching the precision of craftsmen building a wooden fence in Japan.[17] He wanted to make lamps because, "I wanted to interact with the viewer. What better way than to turn something on?" [18] His work has been described as "cutting edge hanging lamps of intricate interlocking pieces of cut and finished plywood. The effect is origami in thin air with distinctive Hawaii touches." [19] The Culture Trip site listed him as a "giant" of the Hawaii art scene, "Mark Chai's naturalist style transforms everyday table lamps and wooden furniture into expressions of the organic world." [20]

He received his BFA from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, in 1976[1]


  1. ^ a b "The Art of Recycling,"
  2. ^ ""Pour It On"". Dwell, July–August 2014.
  3. ^ "Sculptor of Light," New Yorker, August 11–18, 2008
  4. ^ "Lanterns," House Beautiful,February 2007
  5. ^ Home, September, 1994
  6. ^ Phaidon, 2009
  7. ^ ""Hawaii's Next Wave"". Travel & Leisure, May 2012.
  8. ^ a b ""Wish You Were Here"". Modern Luxury Hawaii, September–October 2016.
  9. ^
  10. ^ ""Art, Architecture & Landscape at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Fact Sheet"".
  11. ^ “Take Home Design: Stylish products by Hawai’i’s hottest designers,” Honolulu
  12. ^ "Hawaii in Design".
  13. ^ “Second time around: Mark Chai crafts castoffs into masterpieces,” Honolulu Star Bulletin, August 16, 2001
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Mahina & Sun's Opens in Waikiki". Honolulu Magazine, August 2016.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Art: It's a Turn On," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, November 6, 1998
  19. ^ "Hawaii by Design: Light'em Up, Mark Chai" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2008-11-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ “10 Emerging Contemporary Artists From Hawaii to Know”


External links[edit]