Tiny Atlas Quarterly: Describe a perfect day for you in Kauai
Eddi: I get up at about 4:30 a.m. I still wake with the same excitement I had when I first arrived. Tigger my cat and I walk the trails that weave throughout our five-acre estate as the sun rises over the hills. We make our way to the main house to have a cup of tea or coffee. This is my quiet time, when I really get to enjoy the property before anyone else is up.
As the guests wake up, we talk. After breakfast, I walk back to my little tea house on the backside of the property. I’ll spend the rest of the day tending to various things, seeing friends who stop by and gardening. When the day cools down, I walk to Moloa’a Bay and have a dip in the ocean.
Mychael: There are so many perfect days here! It would probably start with getting up with the sun, grabbing a quick bite, and heading out for a morning surf session. I would get back to The Palmwood around nine and look over the day’s agenda. Then about an hour or two before sunset, I’d jump back in my truck and head back to the beach to surf till its dark. I’d come back, wrap up any Palmwood loose ends, and see what I need to do for the next day. Typically I’ll FaceTime a friend or two on the mainland, before heading into the kitchen to work on a recipe or dish for 6867 [a dinner series Mychael runs at The Palmwood]. Rinse and repeat day in and day out, and I’m pretty good.
TAQ: Where do you go on your morning walk Eddi, what do you love about it?
Eddi: Other than Tigger and I walking the trails on the property, I sometimes make my way to the Moloa’a River and the little known waterfalls that are very near to the house. There are great little jungle hikes that no one knows about.
TAQ: Do you give guests ideas on what to do? Do you want them to discover local spots or do you prefer to keep it to locals?
Mychael: In the confirmation email to guests, we suggest picking up The Ultimate Guide to Kauai. I’m also working with Mosey to build a digital guide guests can access from their devices
If I’m not traveling, I talk to guests in the morning during breakfast. Some guests want to drive all around, some want to lie on a beach all day like monk seals, while others want to get in as many adventures as possible. Curating their experiences is one of the biggest rewards I have. I love following up the next day to see how it went. I don’t typically tell guests what they will find on their adventures because those little surprises are really nice for them to them to discover on their own.
Eddi: My favorite places to send guest are the stone dam at Common Grounds, one of the beaches within walking distant of The Palmwood, the stupa that is directly across from us on Koola’u Road, and the farmer’s market in Hanalei.
TAQ: Mychael, tell us about your dinner series?
Mychael: The dinner series is called 6867, The Palmwood’s address. It’s a five course tasting menu that I’ve been putting on Saturday nights. Reservations are prepaid and there are sixteen covers to seat one communal table and three two tops. The concept is a play on the Argentine Puerta Cerrada (closed door) restaurants.
I’m working on inviting guest chefs. One of the reasons I travel to the mainland and Los Angeles so much lately is to cook alongside chefs I really respect and admire. Ari Taymor of Alma is a good example.
TAQ: Which farmer’s markets do you go to?
Mychael: I’m partial to the Kilauea Market and Wailua Market. The Hanalei Market gets all the love because it has a gorgeous backdrop, but it is usually rammed and it’s hard to get in and out. Lately, I’ve been going to some of the local farmers here in Moloa’a to source produce, cheese, and honey directly for 6867 and The Palmwood. I’m also working with a farmer to set up a small garden here on the property.
Eddi: I enjoy the Hanalei farmer’s market. They have great local crafts and it’s my favorite time of the week to meet up with my girlfriends to talk story.
TAQ: Eddi, tell us about your finds that you are going to start sharing with guests.
Eddi: There are these amazing purses made from hala (more commonly known as walking palm) by a local family originally from Tonga. It’s a family affair and one bag touches three different hands: the father carves the wood handles out of koa, his wife weaves the mats of hala, and her sister does all the finishing and trim work out of leather. These three individuals are the last in their lineage (the younger generation has no interest in learning the art), so the craft will die out with them. We’ve also just started carrying a line of soaps made exclusively for us by Cloud Water Tea.
TAQ: What is Kauai to you?
Eddi: Kauai is my home. It’s my sanctuary.
Mychael: Kauai is half of everything I need. There are a lot of great things about the island, but it also lacks a lot of what I’m looking for. The same can be said about the mainland. They are yin and yang, my two halves that together make a whole and bring me balance.
Tiny Atlas Quarterly: What was your role in creating AIRspace?
Elke Frotscher: My role in the project has been quite inclusive… working on the design from first concept ideas to detailing all its components, putting the team together, overseeing fabrication, and controlling the budget. At the same time I worked closely with the scientists who provided data for the digital aspect of the project, the construction team of the new airport terminal, TSA, the client team, and a local architect.
Installing the piece meant working hands on with Tectu.re through long nights at the airport, up on ladders, and bending metal mesh into shape, which resulted in countless little finger-cuts in the process of getting the sculpture to be exactly as we wanted it to be.
On top of this, Neil Mendoza became part of the team as software developer and video mapping specialist, along with Vincent Rebers (Senior Creative Technologist at JBS) for final installation and commissioning. Working with them has been a treat.
TAQ: Who was the driving force behind the environmental theme?
EF: The San Diego Airport takes their stewardship very seriously and we have been amazed by the unique way they take care of their environment. Right next to the very busy runway, a California least tern colony has found a patch of dirt that they started to use as breeding grounds.
With the number of people enjoying California’s beaches, the birds’ natural breeding grounds have become too dangerous for nesting—and the spot next to the runway came with all the right qualities they’d been looking for but without people walking around in it. The airport staff work to ensure that no ground predators get to their nests and keep count of pairs breeding and chicks hatched to monitor the recovery of this endangered species.
Following this experience, we looked into the shared space of bird and planes, the shared space of human travels and the migration of species, the way certain qualities in the landscape influence the way of movement, and the motivation to travel to certain locations in the first place.
TAQ: What was the most surprising thing you learned by working with an airport team?
EF: Finding out that this particular airport authority is also in charge of a part of San Diego Bay as well as working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to turn a substantial part of South Bay Salt Works back into tidal marshlands. I have to admit that the surreal landscape of the salt ponds with their shades of pink and salt crystals glistening in that Californian light has been equally mesmerizing and inspiring.
TAQ: How did what you love about travel influence your concept for this installation?
EF: My love for traveling and exploring new places played a huge role in taking on the project in the first place. I’ve been lucky enough to travel through Northern California before and now had the opportunity to explore the south in more depth by spending time there to understand the place, collaborate with local scientists and designers—an amazing opportunity on top of being involved in designing an art space for the public.
I enjoy being on the move, in transit from one place to another, but I also like to really be in a new place and to get a deeper understanding of it—experience it with the locals.
The project concept itself is influenced by both, offering people in transit a deeper insight into what is happening around them, to lift the veil, to let them have an in depth glimpse of what they are part of already, to peak their interest in the shared space of travelling.
TAQ: How has working on this project influenced how you feel about travel?
EF: Airports have always been fascinating to me. They are very complex buildings and the first space travelers experience when arriving in a new country or city. They play a huge role in the first impression people have about a place. They are also places where all sorts of people spend time in transit, making for a very diverse and interesting crowd.
Working in this environment has certainly opened my eyes to the people here who are not in transit, but who experience airports as their daily work environment, still being part of the high-level security and general flux, but from a stationary point of view.
TAQ: What went into your process for choosing the elements and materials?
EF: All design components that make up the physical installation have been inspired by the coastline, the sense of movement of the sands, shaping the cliffs and flows of currents in the ocean. The team was inspired by the tracks of migratory species—the swooping movement of birds and planes and the way they are recorded and visualized has influenced the graphics within the space.
We adopted the airport’s ways of communicating arrival and departure information by including an extended version of arrival/departure boards. In our design, a version that also provides information on a selection of species coming through the wider area creates a visual of the life data received directly from research institutes (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) as well as flight information.
As part of the AIRspace project’s environmental concept, inspired by the stewardship of the airport, sustainability has been an important factor from the outset. We carefully chose environmentally friendly materials and fabrication methods and tried to keep everything as local as possible, reducing overall transport ways, and working with local teams and knowledge.
TAQ: We know, partly through your amazing Instagram feed (@elice_f), that you were in and out of San Diego many times working on this project. What are some of your favorite places?
EF: I really miss waking up on the beach. During my time in San Diego I stayed in surfer hotels and AIRbnb places as close to the ocean as possible. My daily routine was to get up before sunrise, grab a coffee at Woody’s, take it to the beach and wake up with my feet in the Pacific, walking, watching the surfers, and looking for sand dollars while calling the studio back in London to catch them at their end of the day. Free WiFi on the beach is a true luxury for business travelers.
A great place near the water is the café on the pier at Ocean Beach, no WiFi but desk space with a view!
Another favorite place and my office for many days is Bird Rock Coffee Roasters on La Jolla Boulevard, a perfect combination of great coffee and a relaxed atmosphere with a friendly buzz and very good WiFi.
As far as meeting rooms go, Scripps Pier is hard to beat. Never before have I had dolphins passing by while being in a business conversation.
Also, I will be forever grateful to have visited Salk Institute and experience its architecture in real life. It has exceeded all expectations I've had since studying it in books many times before
TAQ: Did your teammates at Tectu.re give you any great spots in the area to try that have become your favorites?
EF: Ever since returning from my first trip to San Diego I crave real Mexican food, which is surprisingly hard to come by in London. Tectu.re took me to some amazing authentic places for team lunches, let me hang out with them at their studio, which is an amazing place to work or have after work drinks in, introduced me to the local art scenes, to other makers and artists, and even organized bonfires at the beach. Sitting in the sand around the fireplace at Mission Bay one night when heavy fog rolled in, so dense that we could barely see each other at some point is one of my favorite memories with them
If there is any way to convince The Taco Stand to open a place in London, my life would be happier and if I get back to San Diego some time I'll ask Tectu.re to take me to that food truck they couldn't stop talking about but we never managed to get to.