very soon i’ll be going to honolulu to install a new project. as excited as i am to see this creative project come to life i am also very excited to visit shangri la, the extraordinary home of doris duke.

doris duke was an american heiress with a very colorful life. she was the only child of tobacco tycoon james buchanan duke. at his death in 1925 she along with her mother inherited the fortune. duke spent her life at duke farms in hillsborough township, new jersey, a mansion in Manhattan which later became the institute of fine arts at new york university, a family residence in newport, “falcon’s lair” in beverly hills the former home of rudolph valentino and shangri la in hawaii.

before this upcoming trip there are a few things that are getting me prepared for the visit to shangri la- the new book doris duke’s shangri la- a house in paradise, previewed here for sunday book club, and the first traveling exhibition of estate called doris duke’s shangri la: architecture, landscape and islamic art.

the exhibition is opening during the centennial date of doris duke’s birthday (1912-93). this is the first major exhibition to be shown outside of hawaii and it will be opened on september 7 at the museum of arts and design in new york. the exhibition explores the synthesis of 1930’s modernist architecture, tropical landscape an islamic art that duke achieved at shangri la.

doris duke lived a very exciting and colorful life, like the fact she worked in egypt at a canteen for sailors during world war II, she had a short lived career as a foreign correspondent for the international news service, she wrote for harper’s bazaar, she was the first woman to take up competitive surfing, she was an environment conservationist, a horticulturist, was married to the dashing dominican republic playboy porfirio rubirosa arzia, she was a gifted piano player and she sang in a gospel choir-  all this along with her very glamorous life are worthy of a future post!

until then enjoy images of shangri la which is situated on five acres of terraced gardens and pools overlooking the pacific ocean and honolulu’s diamond head. the home reflects doris duke’s personal passion for art, architecture, travel and design of the islamic world.

i also think the house represents the colorful, complex and exciting life of doris duke often referred to as the world’s richest girl- enjoy!


Doris Duke at Shangri La- 1966


















Doris Duke-1930’s

Doris Duke at the Moti Masjid-Agra- India

Doris Duke & her Crew- Hawaii

the world’s first woman to take up competitive surfing

Doris Duke & and first husband James Cromwell-Shangri La- 1939

Doris Duke



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  1. Hi Mark: This is the most inspirational spot on the island, even down to the type of grass she planted. Is your work visible here in Hawaii (Oahu)? Would love to see…
    Your fan,

  2. Love this post! Doris Duke is so intriguing, rumor has it that the painted old tile on my fireplace is from the old Duke estate in NJ, Who knows? It does make for a good conversation piece! Have a great Week!
    THe Relished Roost

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