Tiki Events at Palm Springs Modernism Week 2014


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
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.


Sunday – February 16, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Royal Hawaiian Estates Self-Guided Tour
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.


Sunday – February 16, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Jet Set Style Fashion Show
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.)


Monday – February 17, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
Tiki Modern: Style for the Sophisticated Savage
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.


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
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.)


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


Modernism Week – Vintage Airstream Trailer Tours

IMG_7181The closing weekend of Palm Springs Modernism Week featured two days of vintage airstream tours. Dozens of people hauled their restored travel trailers here for us to line up to take a peek inside at their handiwork.

IMG_7144The Decoliner looked like it landed here from another planet. (It was Oregon, actually.) Randy Grubb builds amazing custom cars — Jay Leno bought one — and he made this beauty in 20 months with the front cab of a 1950 COE, 455 Oldsmobile engine, and 1973 GMC motor home chassis.

IMG_7146The inside of it was just as groovy. Those little windows are part of the stairs that lead up to the flying bride. That’s right, you can drive it from the top.

IMG_7153Each trailer had its own unique style. One of my favorites was this 18-foot-long 1964 Airstream Bambi Two, probably because it reminds me of an Anthropologie store. The design was inspired by the Sierra Foothills and the modular furniture was made from salvaged local wood.

IMG_7162Owner Kristiana Spaulding rents out the trailer for commercial shoots and special events, plus she designs jewelry featuring (what else?) trailers. We also saw other airstream enthusiasts turning their passion into businesses by selling themed magnets and t-shirts.

IMG_7205It’s so easy to admire these shiny symbols of the open road (with a few of the comforts of home). RV connoisseurs would have been excited to see this rare (so I’ve read) 1965 Dethleffs Beduin, but I was more thrilled with what I spotted inside.

IMG_7199There was a retro tableau set up in the dining area, complete with ceramic tikis. They looked great with the tropical plant print on the seats.

IMG_7224The Palm Springs High School band program had set up a bake sale and there were also vendors like Vintage Roadside and a dude that made these neat neon signs (and whose business card I’ve unfortunately misplaced). Airstream Life magazine had organized this event for the past three years, but this was the last time they’ll be directly involved. I’m hoping next year will be just as memorable. (Oh yes, we’ll be back.)