Monday, June 18, 2007

Doris Duke's "Shangri La"

The July issue of Town & Country has a great spread on Doris Duke's exotic Hawaiian estate, Shangri La. Calling it her "Spanish-Moorish-Persian-Indian complex", Duke was inspired to build her Islamic-influenced home upon returning from her honeymoon in Asia and the Middle East. She commissioned architect Marion Sims Wyeth to design her retreat, and construction was completed in 1937. In addition to the Eastern architecture, Duke outfitted her home with treasures from her travels- furniture and accessories came from Syria, India, Morocco, and Iran. Duke continued to collect Islamic art and furniture throughout her life, and upon her death this collection became part of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. What I find most interesting is that Duke's fascination with Islamic art and culture began at such a young age and never waned throughout her life. And to think that the poufs and suzanis that adorned Duke's home are just as popular today!

(For a virtual tour of the property, visit the
Shangri-La website)

Shangri-La, designed by Doris Duke and Marion Sims Wyeth

View of the living room with the amazing Moroccan carved ceiling, designed by Rene Martin

The doors are framed by glazed tile made in Iran in the 1930s.

The ornate dining room with an 1840s Baccarat chandelier, Iranian mosaics on the wall, and the family silver on the table.

The Turkish Room. Much of the interior is 19th c. Syrian, particularly the carved stonework.

Photo at top of Doris Duke in 1939, taken by famed photographer Martin Munkacsi.

(All photos from Town & Country)


  1. Anonymous10:24 AM

    I was reading this article last night. So beautiful.

  2. What a beautiful place!!

  3. Anonymous5:25 PM

    Some of the house feels dated but I think that dining room is absolutely over the top fabulous. Striped walls/banquette with that incredible chandelier and the amazing silver? It is beyond wild, nutsy, and totally incredible.

  4. Forgot to stop and comment here the other day -- love all these images! Duke is so intriguing to me.

  5. This is amazing, I had heard about the space but have never seen pics, I will be sure to visit the property next time I am in Hawaii thanks for sharing.


  6. Courtney- Yes, she was rather unusual, and at least she led a more productive (and possibly happier) life than poor Barbara Hutton.

  7. Jordan- You should go and report back to us! You're much closer to Hawaii than I am!