Ventus Design principal designer Reiko Lewis instills harmony into her interior style concepts.

Who would imagine that “the way of tea” could influence contemporary interior design so fittingly? For Honolulu’s Reiko Lewis, principal designer for Ventus Design, the four central tenets for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony—wa (harmony), kei (respect), sei (purity) and jaku (serenity)—are the precisely the principles that shape her design philosophy.

Within a client’s home, Lewis’ interior design exhibits a graceful balance of these four essential elements. Harmony of color and shading within a space is key. A sense of serenity is coupled by a minimalistic approach to an interior. Add clean lines and an elegant composition, and there exists a pureness—a sophisticated simplicity—within her creations.

In keeping with today’s design trends, Lewis combines the curved contour of a kitchen counter with pillared columns on either side. If one stands in the kitchen, the columns act like a frame; through them, looking out, one can view the ocean.

“On the other side of the counter,” Lewis explains, “when you’re standing in the living room, the columns draw your view into the warmth of the kitchen, like one is drawn to a flame.”

The word “warm” is, perhaps, the best way to describe the interior of Lewis’ Paiko-area home. She recounts that people have often commented on how comfortable they feel when they visit. One method for creating comfort is through lighting.

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“Lighting is my forté. I use lighting in many different ways—layering lighting—so it adds dimension to a space.”

Clearly, design trends today include a variety of inventive ways to light a room. But, within Lewis’ interiors, light seems to come to life. Lewis speaks of light “shooting” and “bouncing” throughout a room with vibrancy, only achievable given today’s technological innovations.

Like her contemporaries, Lewis is thrilled with the versatility that comes with the age of LED. Her designs include ambience lighting, cove lighting and even cantilevered countertops featuring a glowing light surrounding the base.

“You can leave these lights on all night in a bathroom, giving the counter a high-end look that promotes safety.”

She notes that, traditionally, lighting over bathroom sinks and counters is projected from above. However, top-down fixture placement alters the impact that both light and shadow have on one’s true reflection. In contrast, place a mirror that has been backlit, with the illumination projecting out, and the halo emitted brightens the face in a whole new way.

Reflection comes into Lewis’ design, too, with her commitment to bringing the outside in and the inside out. Within the walls of her Paiko home, one can see the greens and blues of the islands anywhere. Sometimes, the view shines simply, and beautifully, through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the main living space. Often, one can spy the outdoor vista through a reflection in a decorative glass piece, within the interior, or in another strategically placed mirror.

When remodeling the Paiko residence, she noticed that, depending on where she stood, a breeze traveled in a consistent direction through the home. She wished to allow the airflow to pass unrestrained. So, instead of a sliding glass door, she positioned an antique, teak lattice-weave panel from Thailand between the kitchen and the foyer, thus honoring the spirit of the place.

Moreover, the concept of reflection plays another entirely different role for Lewis. Each space she designs is created to “reflect” a client’s uniqueness. There must be a balance, and a peacefulness, that speaks to each homeowner’s sense of being and comfort. As a designer, the words “reflect” and “respect” are forever linked for Lewis. Central to her is reflecting upon how a client lives life each day. Where did that individual grow up? What makes that individual “feel at home”? What cultural elements are important to that individual?

It is Lewis’ belief that interior design trends of today should emphasize and honor traditions—traditions that are important to the client—while creating a look that is timeless. She wants to take something that exists, even just a client’s memory or wish, and create a luxury space that will carry one into the future with balance and sophistication.

The Latin word ventus is associated with the concepts of wind and air. Reiko Lewis’ designs interiors that feature an airiness, coupled with a balance of harmony, respect, purity and serenity—much like that of the Japanese tea ceremony.

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All photos courtesy Ventus Design