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Doris Duke’s Shangri La

John Canning & Co. traveled to Hawaii to restore the phenomenally intricate, historic Islamic stencil decoration at Doris Duke’s Shangri La, Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures where protecting against the environmental stresses of oceanfront moisture, salt, and wind were factored into our solutions.

Shangri-La was commissioned by Doris Duke in the 1930s as a private residence and a showcase for her extensive collection of architectural elements and art from the Middle East. The Playhouse was modeled on the Chihil Sutun, a royal pavilion built in 1647 in Isfahan, Iran.

The original Playhouse decoration was stenciled directly onto the wood columns, moldings, panels, and architectural details. For the restoration, John Canning & Co. re-created over thirty classic Islamic patterns of painted decoration, with up to seven separate stencil plates for each design. We formulated solutions that would stand up to the environment and conserve the original materials, balancing modern materials with traditional craft.


2007 Honor Award for Historic Preservation, Historic Hawaii Foundation.