Vladimir Ossipoff

 Photograph by Honolulu Advertiser.

Photograph by Honolulu Advertiser.

As a kid growing up on O'ahu, I took the lush flora, sandy beaches and city lights of Honolulu for granted.  It wasn't until I moved away, that I realized how special the landscape of this city had been all along.  Vladimir Ossipoff recognized the beauty of Hawai'i when he moved from California in the 1930s.  A Russian born, Japan raised, and California educated architect, Vladimir remained in Honolulu where he mastered Tropical Modernism on the islands, designing a series of homes and structures that were environmentally sensitive to its surroundings.  His signature touch managed to incorporate master craftsmanship and design elements deeply influenced by Japan and Hawai'i's cultures.

When we chose to feature the IBM building, a Vladimir Ossipoff design, for the cover of our Honolulu Travel Journal, I began to uncover more of his work across Honolulu and the influence he had in modernizing Hawai'i's architecture.


One of Ossipoff's most iconic designs, the IBM building, was built in 1962 in Kaka'ako off Ala Moana boulevard.  Before the neighborhood began its recent gentrification phase, the area was dusty, full of warehouses or auto-body shops where the futuristic IBM building stood tall and to be honest, a bit out of place at the time.  Now I've learned to admire its unique brise-soleil concrete facade that was inspired by computer punched cards and designed to minimize direct sun rays from entering the building.  Today, Its iconic structure houses the Howard Hughes Hawai'i offices and is used as a location for many community events.


 Photograph by Historic Hawai'i Foundation.

Photograph by Historic Hawai'i Foundation.

Vladimir's contribution to modernizing Hawai'i's architecture can also be seen at the University of Hawai'i Administration building.  Built in 1951, the open lanai (hawaiian patio) and concrete masonry blocks were used as screens to filter tradewinds that naturally ventilated the building.  This building serves as just one of his many examples on his advocacy towards designing environmentally sensitive designs.



One of Ossipoff's most notable works on private homes is tucked away off Tantalus Drive.  Tantalus is a residential neighborhood, known for its steep and windy roads and optimal views of the city.  We recently went on a private tour of the Liljestrand house (built in 1952), where Liljestrand's son told us stories on how the dedicated architect and visionary home owners worked closely together to create one of the most publicized homes in America.  The Japanese craftsmanship that went into the details of their residence is inspiring while the Hawaiian treehouse vibes and captivating Diamond Head views from all angles is breathtaking.


 Photograph by Sunset Magazine.

Photograph by Sunset Magazine.

We highly suggest taking a moment to view his work across Hawai'i but don't fret if you are too busy relaxing at the beach.  If you've ever visited O'ahu or are planning to in the future, you are guaranteed to experience an Ossipoff design without even booking a tour. The Honolulu International Airport, or what is renamed as the late and great senator Daniel Inouye, was designed by Mr. Ossipoff himself and provides a great introduction to his style of work using post-and-beam concrete and seamlessly bridging the gap between the inside and outside spaces.

Vladimir Ossipoff worked throughout his life in Hawai'i as an influential modern day architect until the age of 90.  Thankfully, his designs remain preserved across Hawai'i, representing the longevity and beauty of his contributions to Hawai'i's modernist movement. 


Here are some of Vladimir Ossipoff's work that's accessible to the public.

BLUE CROSS ANIMAL HOSPITAL - 1318 Kapi’olani Blvd, Honolulu



HAWAIIAN LIFE INSURANCE BUILDING - 1311 Kapi’olani Blvd, Honolulu

IBM BUILDING - 1240 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu

LILJESTRAND HOUSE (reservations only) - 3300 Tantalus Dr, Honolulu

THURSTON MEMORIAL CHAPEL - 1601 Punahou Street Honolulu

U.H. ADMINISTRATION OFFICE - 2444 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI 96822





Honolulu Lines

Honolulu is a city of lines. Towering palm trees, the jagged edges of the Ko'olau Mountains, modernist architecture, waves marching towards the Waikīkī shore, the sturdy shape of an outrigger canoe. Lines everywhere.

Being the half of Highlights that is from the Mainland, this was my initial take of Honolulu. And each time I visited thereafter, the more these lines stood out.

 photos clockwise from top left: Waikiki palm trees, Ko'olau Mountains, IBM building, public restroom.

photos clockwise from top left: Waikiki palm trees, Ko'olau Mountains, IBM building, public restroom.


Whenever I returned to Honolulu, I would photograph and sketch as much as I could. When traveling to a new location, and you're not sure if you'll have a chance to return, you catalogue as much as possible. Especially when it's a place that delivers unlimited inspiration.

The funny thing about inspiration is that it can sit in the dark, whether that's on a shelf or in the back of your mind, until it manifests. It wasn't until years later that some of those sketches started to take on more weight as a potential project. Figuring out what that project would be came next.

 drawings from sketchbook

drawings from sketchbook


Creating sculptures for product was always enticing. Sculptures that can live with our products. Sculptures that can create a dialogue with our products. Clean, graphic, linear, and utilitarian. This is the start of HLTS Sculpture Series. The more products to come, the more sculptures. Below are the first three.

(shot by Will Anderson)


Local Slang

Let's talk a little about the local slang in Hawai'i.  What started on the sugarcane plantations as a way for owners, immigrant workers and native Hawaiians to communicate, Hawaiian Pidgin is a blend of various languages including Hawaiian, English, Portuguese, Cantonese, Filipino and Japanese.  It is a language distinct to the islands of Hawai'i and ever present in the daily interactions between locals.  We covered some local slang in our Honolulu Travel Journal and now we want to share some of our favorites with you.


CHOKE - many, a lot

* They get choke spam on sale today!


HANA HOU - repeat, one more time, encore

* Chee hoo!  That was a good play.. Hana Hou!


HOLOHOLO - to go out, especially for a ride for leisure

* You like holoholo with me?


GRINDS - good food

* Ho brah, let’s eat at Helena’s, they get mean grinds there.


PAU - finished, done

* I pau eating my poi.


PAU HANA - after work, drinks, happy hour

* It's pau hana time, let's go grab some drinks!

If you want to learn more Hawaiian Pidgin.. we suggest picking up one of these classic books here.


Waikiki Walls


A place where locals and travelers intersect in Waikiki.

   Waikiki Walls

Waikiki Walls

Located in the tourist-centric area of Honolulu sits one of the most recognized beaches in all of Hawai'i, if not the world...Waikiki Beach. There is an undeniable buzz you get from the shores of Waikiki that attracts millions of travelers and locals alike. Conveniently steps away from city life, Waikiki actually consists of 8 connecting beaches, each offering up a unique topography of surf, sand, and beach goers. Today, we are highlighting a place that offers up a good glimpse of it all called Kapahulu Groin, or what locals simply refer to as Walls.

   Google map: location of Walls

Google map: location of Walls

Walls is located where Kalakaua and Kapahulu Avenues intersect, a place where locals and travelers cross paths in Waikiki. What was once a stream that ran from the valley into the Pacific Ocean has evolved into an elevated concrete walkway that protects the sandy beaches while draining excess rain water back into the ocean.

It is here where you'll experience a mix of beach goers -  young to old and locals to travelers, all congregating on the wall while taking in all that Waikiki's urban shoreline has to offer.

   Locals and travelers hanging out at Walls

Locals and travelers hanging out at Walls

There are three distinct sides of Walls that reveal a different perspective and attraction to Waikiki. The west side (Ewa) of the wall is recognizable for its connecting sea wall that lies parallel to the shore, shielding incoming waves from reaching the beach. Known as the 'pond' for its calm waters and pool-like atmosphere, it is a safe place for floaters and families with kids to swim. Views from this side of the wall capture the infamous pink hotel along with the towering high-rises in the backdrop. And at night, the city lights of Honolulu glow off the waters of Waikiki.

   West-side of Walls

West-side of Walls

The east side (Diamond Head) is barrier-free and allows surfers and boogie boarders to ride out waves back to shore. Highlights on this side of Walls involve views of Diamond Head and kids on boogie boards zooming past you.

Keiki (kid) riding his boogie board along the Diamond Head side of Walls.

The end of Walls is a great vantage point to watch surfers catching waves and thrill seekers jumping off the wall and into the ocean. You'll find a nice rush of activity here as the waves crash below you. Be prepared to get a little wet here.

   North-side of Walls

North-side of Walls

If you time it right, you can catch Waikiki's dazzling show along the water at sunset! Tropical hues of orange, pink and purple light up the sky and reflect off the Pacific Ocean as animated shadows from beach goers get their last minute fix of warmth from the sun. It's truly an all-access pass to an arena of beach goers and activities on the South Shore of O'ahu.

Hana Hou!