From New York’s city life to living off the grid in Hawai’i, the Rodriguez family are turning their dreams into reality.
Four days a week, at 5:30 a.m., a family of three—father, mother, and 4-year-old son—wake up before the sun to practice yoga with a man who pioneered the discipline in the United States. Afterwards, on weekdays, Daniel Sheinfeld and Loomis Rodriguez, the father and mother, head off to work on various architecture projects around the Big Island before meeting up at a small rented space to work on their collaborative design projects. Next is where their story fully veers off the beaten path—when they come home, their family life is illuminated only by a single solar-powered bulb and a sky full of stars.
“Once you taste what it is to sleep without having any buzz of electricity around you, and the possibility of taking a shower while watching the stars every single night … ” Sheinfeld gushes about living off the grid on a farm in Holualoa before switching topics to the couple’s creative aspirations.
Sheinfeld is a highly energetic, tech-enthused Venezuelan who dreamed of living at the epicenter of bustle, New York City, where Rodriguez is from. But instead, four years ago, the two jumped at the chance to move off the grid from Honolulu’s Chinatown to a friend’s 15-acre farm with their then-11-month-old son.
The three now call home a shed converted into a bedroom and living space, surrounded by goats, sheep, organic produce, a starry sky, and not much else.
“True description, we have one light in our bedroom sparked by a single solar panel,” he says. They only recently got a much-awaited solar-powered fridge.
The husband and wife seem to have endless energy and creativity; they spend hours each day churning through various phases of Sheinfeld Rodriguez A+D projects, particularly industrial design and jewelry. Their current focus: jewelry inspired by biomimicry, one-off pieces that are essentially wearable sculptures.
“Our inspiration is almost completely organic and based in nature, but the way we create it is completely opposite,” he says.
They examine the molecular and genetic structure of organisms, the framework and tiny pieces that come together to make a whole. “Instead of just making jewelry that looks exactly like a pineapple, we analyze the pineapple genetically. … From the core of nature we take that essence and transfer it into these beautiful pieces,” he explains.
Their next line will examine the makeup of water, creating jewelry inspired by how it flows along the human body. They already have their sights set on a 3D scanner, so that such a piece can be designed exactly for your neck, your wrist. Already, their jewelry involves complex coding and design, which they then translate into a resin prototype printed with their 3D printer, one of the most sophisticated models in Hawai‘i, a Form 1 by Formlabs, at their space in Holualoa.
From there, they send out the prototype to be 3D-printed as a wax mold, which is then cast in precious metals like gold and silver (they hope to be able to do all this themselves by next year). Once the piece is returned, they make any final refinements with generator-powered tools back on the farm. The result is a signature Sheinfeld Rodriguez A+D design, a highly technical, highly customized, but organic-inspired work of art.
Sheinfeld celebrates a globalized, online world, which has enabled him, for example, to collaborate with a London-based Pakistani architect on code-generated holographic prints; a world in which they can live on an island in the middle of the Pacific but have access to advanced technology and clients around the world.
On the other hand, he loves that his family has a direct connection to organic produce, nature in abundance, and friends such as one who makes organic honey from 70 hives on the shared land.
Of his life off the grid and the relief it provides from his technology-driven creation, he says, “You get really connected to the earth. I don’t think we would be able to do it otherwise, because we would go nuts.”
Find select Sheinfeld Rodriguez A+D creations at Big Island Gallery M3LD, 74-5617 Piwei Pl. For more information, visit sheinfeldrodriguez.com.