Thursday, March 24, 2011

Evolution of the "Hawaiian Style" Roof

There are plenty of elements in Polynesian Pop culture that can trace their roots back to a single individual. For example, Ernest Bueamont Gantt (aka Don the Beachcomber) was responsible for creating the tropical cocktail as we know it today, or Les Baxter is credited with creating the 'exotic' sound in music. Tiki architecture is no different, one man set the tone very early on and it became accepted as the gold standard for all tropical design.

Charles W. Dickey (1871-1942) was born in Hawaii on the island of Maui. He spent his childhood in Hawaii, but left to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to earn a degree in architecture. He then spent 20 years practicing as an architect in Oakland, California before returning to Honolulu.

When he returned to Hawaii, he was dismayed with the predominant design style of the time (colonial) and set out to create a unique "Hawaiian" style. He accomplished that when he created the 'Dickey Roof', inspired by Kamehameha V's grass beach house in Waikiki.

Kamehameha V's beach hut

The Dickey Roof is a double pitch roof, with the top portion of the roof at a steeper angle than the lower portion of the roof. While simple in it's design, it quickly became the standard in Hawaiian architecture.

The first Dickey Roof was designed and constructed in 1926 on Charles' personal residence in Waikiki.

Tiki Architecture can trace it's roots back to this single house in Waikiki.

In 1926, he received a commission to design the Bungalow Cottages at the the Halekulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach and he used his Dickey roof design on all of the structures.

Halekulani Bungalows built in 1926

In 1931, he was commissioned again by the Halekulani Hotel to design the main building, and he used his Dickey Roof design.

Halekulani Hotel Main Building 1953

By the mid 1930's Dickey Roofs were being used all over the Hawaiian Islands, and by the mid to late 1940's, that style had become the sterotype for tropical buildings.

Dickey Roofs at the Breakers Hotel on Waikiki Beach

Breakers Hotel, Waikiki Beach

Mid Century Modern Polynesia at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel, 1957

When Charles Dickey died in 1942, Polynesian Pop Culture had not taken hold on the mainland of the United States yet, in fact, it would be another 15 years befeore we would hit the heyday of tiki culture. However, once Polynesian Pop culture did take hold, Hawaiian architecture (along with other South Seas designs) was manipulted and contorted into the fantasy escapism we love today.

Some examples of the Dickey Roof were not that extreme....

The Aloha Inn Motel in Altamont, IL

Then the design became a little more exagerated...

The Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL

The Castaways Casino and Coffe Shop, Las Vegas, NV

....and then even more detals were added....

Ports 'O Call Restaurant, San Pedro, CA

Detail of photo above showing the extended roof beams and angled supports anchored in the lagoon. Note the tiki profile cut into the end of the support beams (a similar profile design was also used at the Kapu Tiki apartments in Pico Rivera, CA).

...and then the style was taken to extremes, squashed and streched into these beautiful examples of tiki design.

Trader Mort's in Point Loma, CA

Traders Inn, Ormond Beach, FL

So next time you find an old picture or postcard of a tiki restaurant or hotel at a garage sale, take a quick peek at the roof, I bet you will see C.W. Dickey's design hiding in there.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tiki News - Issue #4

Late summer 1995, I was in a quirky little bookstore here in Denver checking out the alternative ‘zines’ and found a magazine called Le Pasefika (now out of print). Paging thru the issue, I found an ad for Tiki News. I went home and mailed in my subscription request for the next 6 issues ($10), there was no website or PayPal at the time. Shortly thereafter, my first issue showed up, it was #4.

Issue #4 July 1995 $2

I went back and reread the Issue cover to cover before creating this post, and one thing really jumped out at me. Tiki News was starting just as the internet was gaining speed with the public. I found myself looking for website addresses for advertisers, artists, etc. and there is none of that in the issue. The only reference to the web is Otto Von Stroheim’s (creator of Tiki News) email address, that’s it. It was just an interesting observation as today we have become conditioned to be able to find instant satisfaction via the web.

Stories in Issue #4 included:

Waikiki Calling – A trip report to the Island of Oahu, including visits to the International Market Place, Oahu thrift stores and the Aloha Bowl Flea Market.

Hurricane Harbor – A story about the new tiki themed water park addition at Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.

The Big Pineapple in the Big Apple: Trader Vic’s, NY – A trip report to the then still operating Trader Vic’s.

Tiki Terror – A short story by Charles Schneider

Charles Schneider – A look at his artwork

Follow That Mug! The Kahiki Supper Club – A trip report for the still operating Kahiki in Columbus, Ohio.

Neighborhood Tiki – An update where readers could send in their finds for tikis that were still standing out in the wild. Issue #4 included the Mar Vista Bowl in Los Angeles. Note the advertisement for Dionysus Records with early SHAG artwork.

Nostalgis Anthropologisticus – Fear and Loathing in Tikiland Atlanta Memories, Part II, by David Mockba. A trip report for the Atlanta area.

Tune into Tiki – A calendar of events for upcoming radio shows (not webcasts or podcasts, you had to listen to the radio), magazines, etc.

Tiki Manifesto – The Tiki Manifesto was created by Tiki News and posted on the back page of the issue.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

SpongeBob Title Cards

My house is a SpongeBob SquarePants house. With two kids, a day does not go by without the little yellow sponge dancing and singing on our tv, they love that show! SpongeBob first aired on Nickelodeon in 1999 and is still going strong, in fact it was renewed for a ninth season in January of 2011. I must admit, my wife and I also watch the show with the kids, I love it.

My favorite part of the show is the background art used on the Title Card at the beginning of each episode. Here are a few of my favorite backgrounds.

The next three cards all use the same design, but with a different color scheme or inversion of the pattern.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Don Carson Fantasy Design & Architecture

Every once and a while I will stumble across and artist whose work I really connect with. They may be a painter, sculptor, designer, builder, or an architect. Don Carson is one of those artists. He is a freelance Art Director and Illustrator and I like everything that he does. He has a strong background in the theme park industry and that reflects in his designs and artwork. It has a humorous element to it. Here are a few examples of some of his themepark designs.

Point of sale vending location

Exterior design for attraction building

Themed signage

Back in 2000, Don got involved with a project designing a virtual world. The project was loosely based on a tiki/Club Med theme and he created some fantastic wacky concept art.

Lucky’s Tiki Bar with a large tiki that has broken off the front of the structure.

Themed tiki signage

Behind Lucky’s Bar is a varied collection of tiki, exotic and nautical d├ęcor.

Don prepared concept art for two of Walt Disney World’s themed water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) and that style reflects in some of these drawings.

While not tiki, I do love this idea of a retail space that sells jetpacks out of a converted old Quonset hut.

You can see lots more examples of Don’s work and review his portfolio on his webpage

If interested, here are some quick links to other artists whose work I think is fantastic.

Benjamin Burch
Eric Scales
Megan Brian
Jody Daily & Kevin Kidney
Mike Cozart