Tiki Events at Palm Springs Modernism Week 2014

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The Palm Springs Modernism Week 2014 schedule includes architectural bus tours, films, lectures and even several tiki-related events. Here’s a heads-up so you don’t miss out!

Thursday – February 13, 8 p.m.-11 p.m.
Modern Mambo! Modernism Week After Dark Opening Night
$150
Caliente Tropics, Palm Springs

The kick-off party for Modernism Week will take place at the tiki-themed motel Caliente Tropics. It will be turned into a poolside “mid-century modern mambo club” with tropical cocktails, live entertainment and DJs spinning mambo music, naturally.

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Sunday – February 16, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Royal Hawaiian Estates Self-Guided Tour
$40
S. Palm Canyon Drive, at E. Twin Palms Drive, Palm Springs

We had a great time last year exploring the Royal Hawaiian Estates, a Polynesian-influenced condo development constructed in 1959 and 1960. The exterior features many unique elements designed by architects Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison, and several residents graciously open up their vintage-styled homes to the visitors on this self-guided tour. Thanks to the funds raised during last year’s Modernism week, the restoration of all 40 “tiki apexes” has been completed so the Royal Hawaiian Estates will be looking better than ever.

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Sunday – February 16, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Jet Set Style Fashion Show
$40
Horizon Ballroom, Hilton Hotel

“Tiki-style resort clothing” will take to the runway along with vintage evening wear and cocktail dresses from the 1950s and ‘60s at the Jet Set Style Fashion Show. (I’m guessing there’ll be some primo tapa print pieces like in the photo above from last year’s show.)

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Monday – February 17, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
Tiki Modern: Style for the Sophisticated Savage
$18
Horizon Ballroom, Hilton Hotel

Of course, the event I’m looking forward to the most is “Tiki Modern: Style for the Sophisticated Savage.” Sven Kirsten, the author of “The Book of Tiki” and “Tiki Modern” will present a lecture on how “primitive” Oceanic and African art influenced 20th-century avant-garde art and modernist design.

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Friday – February 21, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Mid-Century in Honolulu – Aloha From a Mid-Century Paradise on The Verge of Change
$12
Annenberg Theater, Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Springs has in recent years made a considerable effort to preserve its mid-century modern history, but Honolulu seems more likely to bring out the bulldozers. Modernism designer Brad Dunning will give a presentation of photos highlighting iconic buildings and endangered architectural gems. (This is a particularly timely topic with the imminent demolition of the International Market Place in Honolulu, which was founded by Don the Beachcomber in 1956.)

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Saturday, February 22–Sunday, February 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Vintage Travel Trailer Show
Adults $15, Students $10, Children 12 & under Free
Hilton Hotel, Parking Lot

Restoring a travel trailer is a labor of love and the people that do it often put their own personal stamp on the finished product. At the Vintage Travel Trailer Show, you stand a decent chance of something tiki among the retro furnishings.

Check out the Modernism Week web site for more information and to buy tickets for these events and more.

And if all those things weren’t enough of a draw, the new Tonga Hut Palm Springs will be open by then!

Related Posts:
Tiki Guide to Palm Springs
Previous Palm Springs Modernism Week Events

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Modernism Week Tour of Royal Hawaiian Estates – Palm Springs

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We had a great time last year at Palm Springs Modernism Week, but I was even more compelled to come back this year when I found out there would be a tour of Royal Hawaiian Estates, a 1960s condominium community that merged mid-century modern architecture with a Polynesian theme. It’s mentioned in Sven Kirsten’s book Tiki Modern, but I really took notice of it after seeing Bosko’s painting at The Book of Tiki 10th anniversary art show.

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Borrowing its name from the famous Honolulu hotel, Royal Hawaiian Estates was initially intended as a Jewish retirement community. It was designed by the architectural firm of Richard Harrison and Donald Wexler (the latter made a special guest appearance the day of the tour). The five-acre complex is made up of 12 buildings, divided into 40 units, surrounding two pools where Moai bask in the desert sunshine.

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After checking in at the front, we were given a map with self-guided tour information that highlighted unique architectural elements like the “tiki apex,” the orange flourish at the end of the center beam, and the parallel lines that flank it. These were once all over the property, but as they deteriorated in the 1990s they were removed rather than replaced.

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In 2010, the Royal Hawaiian Estates HOA used grants from the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation to commission a new tiki apex prototype from o2 Architecture, who designed one with low-maintenance sheet metal instead of wood. Several of these have already been put in place, and our tour fees raised enough funds to restore the remaining 30 that are missing.

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Another signature are the “Flying 7s,” these triangular buttresses supporting the patio roofs. They’re said to have been inspired by the lateral supports on an outrigger canoe.

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Several homeowners graciously opened their doors to us so we could also appreciate the interior designs, with their vaulted ceilings, clerestory windows, exposed beams and open layouts.

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Some units have been remodeled over the years, but others like this one here still had many original 1960 features, like terrazo floors and this shoji screen divider between the kitchen and living room.

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It was also interesting to see how each owner put their own personal stamp on their home, whether it was through collections of vintage barware, Heywood-Wakefield furniture or tiki mugs. (Not surprising as liking tiki often goes along with having an interest in things mid-century.)

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One of the units was literally a time capsule. Even though new owners had recently purchased it, they had kept nearly all the original furnishings, including the lush shag carpet, vinyl couches and vintage artwork.

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We were really blown away by all the different outrageously patterned wallpapers, which were still in surprisingly good condition. My favorite was the green bamboo in the guest bedroom — it’s a difficult thing to pull off, but I think they did.

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Admiration for Royal Hawaiian Estates was apparent in many of the owners we talked to, particularly this other couple who had on their wall an enlarged version of the original marketing brochure from 1961 (as seen in Tiki Modern.)

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I took many more photos than I could include here, so head over to Flickr if you’d like to see more. To really get in the mid-century mood, listen to the playlists on the Royal Hawaiian Estates web site, inspired by the music that used to be played at the pool area 24 hours a day.

Related Posts:
Modernism Week 2012 – Mid-Century Mermaids Lecture
Modernism Week 2012 – Architecture Bus Tour
Modernism Week 2012 – Vintage Airstream Trailers