Interior designer influenced isle fine arts
Frequent trips to Asia and Europe inspired her many flavors of art
Phyllis Hume Spalding / 1920-2006
Dressed in an Asian silk tunic and a Hawaiian woven hat, Phyllis Hume Spalding infused the finest of both cultures not only through her wardrobe, but also through art.
Pieces imported from Asia were blended with Pacific artwork, which she used to decorate places around the world.
"She had such an exquisite taste in the arts and was a thing of beauty herself," said Georgianna Lagoria, director of the Contemporary Museum, where Spalding volunteered.
Spalding, who died in her Honolulu home last month at 86, was a well-known interior designer. She was instrumental in restoring Iolani Palace and the design of the Hawaii State Capitol.
"My mom made friends wherever she went," said son Michael Spalding. "She was always spreading her love."
Frequent trips to Asia and Europe helped her to acquire different flavors of art, her son said. Phyllis Spalding turned her eye for fine arts into a lifetime passion, as the elegant pieces she brought back were used in the majority of her works.
Some of her clients were Beatle George Harrison and Hawaii Kai developer Henry J. Kaiser. Another famous client was Laurance Rockefeller, who opened the posh Mauna Kea Hotel and Resort on the Big Island in the 1960s.
Born in Wyoming, she pursued a New York stage career and acted in several Hollywood films. As Miss California in 1936, she was first runner-up in the Miss America Pageant.
Eventually moving to Hawaii, Phyllis Spalding was also known by many island locals. She was a member of Friends of Iolani Palace, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Contemporary Museum, Maui Arts & Cultural Center and Heart Association.
"She lived her life always looking forward, accepting change, embracing new ideas (and) never lingering or dwelling in the past," said Barbara Coles, a close friend and business associate.
The Makiki home that belonged to mother-in-law Alice Cooke Spalding was eventually donated to the Honolulu Academy of Arts in 1968. Later, the residence became the Contemporary Museum. Alice Cooke Spalding served as an art mentor to Phyllis Spalding.
This museum continues to house contemporary art of all media from 1940 to the present. The historic Spalding home and gardens have also been preserved.
"The gardens were probably her favorite part because she went there often with friends and by herself," Lagoria said.
Spalding also served on the Contemporary Museum's collection committee, where she decided on the appropriate pieces for the museum.
She survived by her sons, Philip and Michael, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Her life will be celebrated noon to 2 p.m. Monday in the Contemporary Museum located at 2411 Makiki Heights Drive.
Family and friends are invited the following day to the scattering of her ashes outside the Outrigger Canoe Club. The ceremony starts at 8 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the Contemporary Museum or the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Phyllis Hume Spalding|
June 23, 2006
Phyllis Hume Spalding, 86, of Honolulu, an interior designer, died at home. She was born in Cheyenne, Wyo. She is survived by sons Philip H. and Michael S., four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Services: noon Monday at The Contemporary Museum, 2411 Makiki Heights Drive. Donations suggested to The Contemporary Museum and Honolulu Academy of Arts.