Okay, Listen up Daddy-O’s. Raise your coconut shells if you’ve grooved on the following: The Tonga Room at the San Francisco Fairmont and its sporadic fake rainshowers; The Audio-Aniamatronic Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland; And any of the surviving Trader Vic’s Restaurant (Beverly Hills, Vegas, Emeryville).
If your hand is up, then it wasn’t the grub (rarely is) but the kitschy props (nets, fish, spears, bamboo, totems) that floated your Bahama Mamas. Let’s face it, jungle fever has a place in design, as resurrected in the new decor book, Tiki Modern, by Sven Kirsten.
First of all, you must click on the book at the Taschen publishing site because it pulses to the crazy-like sounds of the Sixties tiki pop beat, complete with exotic bird sounds. You’ll be swaying and snapping your fingers as you preview pages reflecting primitivism in the modern world, from the animal print revival to the shack-like backyard bar.
The author, a music video director and tiki artifact excavator, hunted down props for his productions and emerged as the country’s reigning tiki style expert. One of his unearthed treasures, the two-story high fireplace (below) at the Kahiki Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio in 1961.
Kirsten illustrates how the retro craze (who could forget the bar and bongo lounges in the Gidget movies?) has caught the wave in current trends of mid-century modernism and the opening of tiki-style bars from the beaches of Waikiki to Tokyo.
Mural of Vintage Tiki Iconography
Witco Studio Wooden Tiki Artifacts
It’s also great fun to hop on the jungle cruise tour of the real McCoys, like Hugh Hefner’s Chicago Playboy Pool and Elvis Presley’s Jungle Room assembled by the house of Witco (above) . If you’re like me, this imagery will not just wax nostalgic but have you craving something tall and cool to wet your whistle. For inspiration, check out Tiki Drinks by Adam Rocke. Like Tiki Modern, it packs a punch, and then some.