Architecture students craft award-winning pieces using local wood

To introduce young designers, artists and engineers to the strength and beauty of local woods that are sustainably produced in Hawaiʻi’s forests, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Arch

itecture students participated and earned awards at the Innovation+Imagination (I+I) Student Challenge, which is on exhibit as a “show within a show” at Hawaiʻi’s Woodshow 2020, October 25–November 8.


Steven Hill, director of the fabrication laboratory in the School of Architecture, hosted an informal workshop in the 3DFabLab with a small number of students who all wore face coverings. The UH student work showcased in the I+I Student Challenge came out of six evenings of class over the summer. The more complex pieces resulted from motivated students completing independent projects.

Hill knew there were students who wanted to get more involved in art, design and craft fields, but one of the big hurdles for students is the cost and difficulty to locate high quality locally grown wood. The I+I Student Challenge was born out of conversations about the need to lower that barrier in order to foster more youthful and creative energy into the local craft scene.“Sustainability and environmental responsibility live at the core of our students and our curriculum here at the School of Architecture. The students just have a strong desire to learn more about, and to work with, green materials,” said Hill.


“Kalamahalaikalani” by Sarah Hyun.

“Paper Airplane” by Keola Annino. (Photo credit: Brad Goda)


Student winners

Beau Nakamori won first place in the I+I Student Challenge for his piece “The Overripe Banana,” which was crafted entirely from local woods, gold and paper. Nakamori was also awarded “Most Promising Young Artist” at Hawaiʻi’s Woodshow.

“I felt very shocked when I found out that I won!” said Nakamori. “I’m glad the judges shared the same whimsicality as I did about my ‘Overripe Banana’ piece.”

Sarah Hyun won second place in the I+I Student Challenge for her piece “Kalamahalaikalani,” and was awarded “Spirit of the Show” at Hawaiʻi’s Woodshow. Hyun’s piece is dedicated to her father, who passed during the design phase in March 2020.

“Hearing that I was awarded second place and won the spirit of the show award gave me great joy, but also a sense of peace,” said Hyun. “The design of this lamp was the last design I ever showed my father while he was in ICU, so knowing that I was able to complete it for him and that others acknowledged my efforts were really the true prize.”

Keola Annino earned an honorable mention at Hawaiʻi’s Woodshow 2020 for his piece “Paper Airplane.”

Admission to Hawaiʻi’s Woodshow at Hawaiʻi Opera Plaza (848 South Beretania St.) is free, but capacity is limited. Attendees are encouraged to reserve a timeslot online. Walk-ins are also accepted.