Article written by Priory in the City Director Marcie Uehara Herring
How might a high school senior reimagine the Priory in the City room without a budget? Just ask Kamryn Matsumoto. Kamryn worked with two mentors, Judy Tamashiro and Kenya Jones Lowell, to redesign the Priory in the City room and support real-world learning in the heart of downtown Honolulu.
Kamryn said, "Priory in the City is an innovative program and we need a space that reflects modern design."
Kamryn observed the need for collaborative spaces and worktables. As an introvert, she also saw the value of personal spaces for reflective thinking.
With no budget and a dream, Kamryn turned to family and friends. Kamryn's dad Kurt Matsumoto, Pūlama Lāna'i's COO, donated surplus furniture. Kamryn's mom Lyn Utsugi, Priory class of '82, generously donated new chairs, a sofa with designer pillows, an artistic side table and sturdy counter stools. Kamryn's Uncle Stephen made a gorgeous, standing workstation from reclaimed redwood.
Following this sustainability theme, Kamryn and the design team found bamboo worktables. When The Prep Dad, Kevin Herring, heard the room needed furniture, he said, "How can we help?"
Kevin donated bamboo tables, a credenza, rolling desk and filing cabinet. Luke Herring, a budding engineer and 1st grader at The Prep, enjoyed assembling the furniture with his dad.
The new design studio supports Priory in the City, a signature initiative that provides networking, mentoring and internship opportunities in Honolulu. The design team installed a collection of 21 photos featuring future The Priory doctors, attorneys, scientists, artists, psychologists, businesswomen and filmmakers. The black and white photography showcases The Priory students at their internship sites, and highlights the school's brand: personalized learning in the heart of the city.
Kamryn is an artist. The Priory in the City class visited the Abstract Expressionism: Looking East From The Far West exhibition (AbEx) at the Honolulu Museum of Art. St. Andrew's Schools Trustee Nancy Conley gave The Priory families a personalized tour of the culturally significant art she loaned to the museum's exhibition.
Inspired by this outing, The Prep artist Luke Herring created Abstract Expressionist watercolor paintings and said, "Let's share our art with the school."
Luke made a long-term loan of his art collection to the new design studio. The collection includes master artist Satoru Abe, ceramist Toshiko Takaezu, and painter Tadashi Sato. It also features next generation artists such as wood sculptor Aaron Padilla.
What made this process even more meaningful was honoring the schools founder, Queen Emma. When the team asked The Prep mom, Stacey Leong Mills, if she could share a photograph of Queen Emma she said, "What if you did a floor to ceiling portrait?"
The team said, "Wow!"
Although they loved the idea they did not have funds for this special project.
Stacey said, "We should try to get a donor."
Stacey delivered with a generous donation from Service Printers Hawai'i and her design firm Stacey Leong Design. Now, the studio has an elegant graphic wall to celebrate the school's ali'i heritage.
Creating this beautiful design studio was challenging. Kamryn stretched beyond her comfort zone. She gained design thinking skills from her mentors, and presentation skills when she pitched her concept to Head of School Ruth Fletcher and CFO Mike Curtis. As a result of this thoughtful process, Kamryn and the design team created a space for students to discover their strengths and talents; plan personalized career pathways, and realize educational and life goals. Kamryn's gift is truly a work of art: a new design studio for the school
Kamryn's clients, her classmates, walked into the new studio and loved it. Their word cloud included descriptions of how they felt about the room or how they felt in the room. Innovative. Peaceful. Amazing. Inspired. Confident. Cool. Accepted. Focused. Chic. Fancy. Jazzed. Snazzy. Aesthetic. Modern.
When a student has a wonderful idea and the courage to make it happen, it is a remarkable experience to see the St. Andrew's Schools families support her vision. It is with deep gratitude to The Priory and The Prep 'ohana that the school has a design studio for life and career coaching.