Hawaiian Airlines makes its debut as a Honolulu Museum of Art exhibition sponsor with the kaleidoscopic Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion, on view through April 3, 2016. As Hawaiian’s senior vice president‑marketing, Avi Mannis is in charge of elevating the airlines’ brand and product. He’s the person who generates such exciting projects as the design collaboration with Sig Zane for ‘Ohana by Hawaiian and the company’s new website, which features not just online reservations but engaging editorial about the islands that brands Hawaiian Airlines as an information resource in touch with local culture as well as efficient transportation. Mannis talked to the museum about the relationship between Hawaiian Airlines and art, and his own Harajuku experience.
What does the museum mean to you and the community?
Avi Mannis: One of our key goals as Hawai‘i’s destination carrier is to expose people to a wider range of reasons to come experience Hawai‘i. Aside from enriching the lives of kama‘āina and creating educational opportunities for our keiki, we think the museum can provide a vibrant forum for art and design that will draw visitors from around the Pacific.
Has art influenced you personally?
My undergraduate studies were in archaeology and ancient art, so I’ve always had a keen interest in the way that art and material culture both reflect and shape our worldview. Spending the early part of my career at Christie’s in New York exposed me to a different aspect of the art world and I really enjoyed the everyday exposure to sublime works of art.
What led you to believe Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion was a good match for Hawaiian Airlines?
We have been flying to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport for five years and love the idea of fostering the already strong cultural ties between Japan and Hawai‘i. We’ve been bringing Hawai‘i’s music, culture, and art to Japan in new and exciting ways, and we’re pleased to also be able to bring some of Japan’s vibrant contemporary culture here to Honolulu. Now with our new service from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, we have two ways to connect Harajuku to Honolulu.
How is art, fashion and culture woven into Hawaiian Airlines’ corporate culture?
As a brand, we take enormous inspiration from both the design and craft traditions indigenous to Hawai‘i as well as those from the destinations we serve. We’re constantly inspired by new work from Hawai‘i-based artists and designers, and our guests will see some of that reflected in our cabins, collateral, uniforms and spaces. We’ve built some really exciting collaborations with local designers and with organizations like the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Fashion Week, and Pow! Wow! Hawaii.
What do you most looking forward to seeing in the exhibition or programming?
We love that the exhibitions both celebrate the museum’s collection and also present bold, interesting shows, like Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion, that challenge the traditional role of the art museum and bring in visitors who might otherwise not come.
What does Harajuku mean to you?
I’ll never forget my first experience in Harajuku. I was struck by fashion itself, but more particularly by the sight of young people storing their everyday things in train station coin-lockers and transforming themselves into something extraordinary. The idea of transformation—in this case from traveler to guest, from workday to vacation—is central to our brand, and I think there’s something about that that has resonated particularly well as we’ve grown our brand in Japan.
Corporate giving plays an important role at the museum. We are fortunate to have an active roster of corporate partners that make it possible for the museum to feature world-class exhibitions, offer important arts education programs, and ensure that the museum is accessible to everyone. Interested in becoming a corporate partner? Learn more about our Museum Corporate Council.