By Tommy Kissell Jr., owner of Eco High Fidelity
Hawaii just celebrated a milestone in their statehood, and there is not another in the union that better represents the concept of collaboration and togetherness. There is nothing on earth like the island of Maui. If you have been, you know. The sunrise at the crater, the Road to Hana, and the most pristine beaches you could imagine are only a fraction of what makes Maui an amazing place.
Maui nÃ…: ka ÃŠ:»oi (“Maui is best”).
In the several years I have been traveling, working and writing on Maui, it has become a second home. Hawaiians love their land and are very conscious about the impact (both positive and negative) of mainlanders. One has to earn the right to establish themselves within the tight-knit community, based on relationships and trust. Our experiences within the islands include many projects on Maui, articles about sustainable Lanai, and a sustainable tiny home project within our new farm on the Big Island. But it is the relationships we formed during the process that has made the island our second home.
In 2012, I met Tamara Dattilo, owner of Dattilo Design Group. Like many builders and designers, she was hesitant to work with a new technology firm, especially from the mainland. But after a project together, we realized there was potential for amazing results through collaboration. When I received the call for the project in Wailea, on the south shore of Maui, I jumped at the chance. Tamara’s visions for her projects require a higher standard than normal designers, and I had no illusion of what I would be committing my firm to for several years.
The project was the result of a fire that destroyed a portion of the house from both flames and smoke. Due to an open floor plan, the home suffered damage throughout, including the electronics and shading solutions. Our firm, Eco High Fidelity, was called upon to replace and update the systems. Due to my time in the islands, I knew immediately I would require an all-star team to handle a project of this magnitude. Much like Oceans 11, we assembled a diverse group of specialists, each with a specific set of skills to create something spectacular. Dattilo Design Group plugged us into the local guys to handle the infrastructure. Bailey & Sons Electric, owned by Zachary Bailey and assisted by tradesman Joe Foster, provided our low-voltage prep and infrastructure, with Dattilo Design Group at the helm.
Even before the fire, the owners were frustrated with the tech. The audio, video and automation were service-prone and unreliable. The shades never worked and the overall experience was subpar. It was the same old story we have all heard before; hundreds of thousands of dollars for a complicated system that required constant maintenance.
Like all of our projects, we relied on the concepts and methods of sustainability. Planning this project was like a Mars mission. Forgetting or overlooking certain details and materials would jeopardize the entire system. To ensure the best results, I planned a recon trip with members of our team. Aaron Larmer of Texas Lighting, who provides our Lutron solutions; Mark Gostomski, a veteran of the custom industry with unparalleled project management skills; and Jonathan Hughes, Eco High Fidelity’s director of operations.
After the recon trip, we formed a game plan to provide a state-of-the-art system that would make The Jetsons jealous. After all, there’s nothing cooler than a 21st-century sustainable smart home on the most remote island chain in the world.
The highlight of this house, which deserves the first mention, are the custom shading solutions. The sun in Maui stays up longer, thanks to the promise of the Hawaiian gods. But the heat and UV rays are damaging to the living environment. The shading solutions, with fabrics handpicked by Dattilo Design Group, provide daylight harvesting and blackout environments to ensure comfortability and protection for the art and custom furniture. The house also has two large ceiling windows, with one over the entry and main foyer being 35 feet wide. Aaron Larmer of Texas Lighting suggested the ceiling shading systems from Lutron. The ceiling shades proved to be the biggest challenge of the project. Normally for a commercial environment, they required precision planning and expertise. During the recon trip, Aaron and I decided to bring in the big guns. Texas Lighting, one of the top firms for lighting and shade solutions, works very closely with Lutron, but we needed the human element to ensuring the results would be top notch.
Aaron recommended some of the top shading experts, including James Lackland and Pamela Kisberg. I also called upon one of my mentors, Mark Gostomski, to make sure the project included true custom details. Alongside Eco High Fidelity’s Jonathan Hughes, they integrated the Roman, sheers and ceiling shades into the Elan g! home automation system, which brought it all together.
A home automation system of this magnitude and location required constant monitoring and management. For this, we relied on Pakedge Networks. The computer network and remote management system from Pakedge allows our firm to provide solutions nationwide and maintain function, service the system when required, and keep the home futureproofed. Pakedge’s unparalleled networks provide state-of-the-art results that provide the ability to manage our systems from around the world. Simply put: If Maui is Mars, then Pakedge will network the space age.
To bring it all together, we relied on the keystone of integration, Elan g! Simple, reliable and state of the art, this home automation system is the glue for the audio, video and automation. It ensures the home is perfectly functional and fun to use. Elan’s S1616 provided the audio distribution throughout the house, along with a Yamaha Aventage receiver for surround sound and Paradigm audio speakers for Hi-Fi.
Elan g! provided this home automation system with an all-encompassing control interface displayed on three 7-inch touchpanels, several global hard-button remotes, and of course, app control for the Apple lovers. Lutron and Pakedge give us the what, but Elan g! is the how. The remote access feature alone makes it worth the while. The designer, the homeowner, and Eco High Fidelity can all access the system from thousands of miles away with the touch of a button.
The features are cool too. Alongside the daylight harvesting automation, the system includes a 250,000-song music library tied to the S1Digital streamer, which also provides any streaming service desired including Spotify, Pandora, Maui Native 92.5 and Sirius XM. The homeowners can access any song from anytime throughout the house using two-way feedback on control devices, instead of the 200-disc CD changer they previously had on shuffle.
Maui is about the people as much as the beaches and landscapes. Those who journey to the islands are never the same, whether for a honeymoon or just a visit. Those of us who have made it our home understand that Hawaii is one of the earth’s last treasures. A garden of Eden amongst a world of hustle and bustle, Hawaii will be the gateway to the Pacific during the 21st century. It is also the bridge of sustainability and technology. Forged out of a literal fire, Hawaii has relied on sustainability for hundreds of years to survive. The 21st century is reconciling decades of differences between the mainland and the islands through the universal common denominator: technology. They need it and we need them. Tech will bridge the gaps while providing sustainable solutions to maintain the integrity of the islands we all love, but still providing the state-of-the-art features we want.
A hui hou kÃ„:kou (“until we meet again”).
For a closer peek at this island paradise, check out our slideshow below.