Mid-Century Modern


If you’re into Tiki like me, you hear a lot about the Mid-Century Modern era in America. But what exactly does that mean? And what does it have to do with Tiki?

According to Wikipedia, Mid-Century Modern is a term that “generally describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965.” So, our first clue of the connection is the timeline. Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt opened his first Don the Beachcomber’s bar in Hollywood in 1933, and the first great wave of Tiki lasted until about 1967, when the Summer of Love aesthetic supplanted Tiki as the primary means of escapism in America.

So, was Tiki a part of Mid-Century Modern design? Not really. Tiki art and architecture were more primitive and natural than MCM, which was more clean, crisp and futuristic. However, they occupied the same space in America’s history, and co-existed quite nicely. Think The Jetsons meet The Flintstones!

But why should I care about Mid-Century Modern? Because it was the backdrop against which Tiki occurred, and there were many connections between the two besides timing. I like to think of SHAG’s art when I envision this era in American history. SHAG incorporates a lot of the MCM design aesthetic in his artwork, much of which recalls the 1950s-60s of Palm Springs: architecture, artwork, cocktail culture. And SHAG paints a lot of Tikis as well. These are the things he knows.

In the next few blog posts, I’ll explore the different elements of the Mid-Century Modern era. I’ll be learning along with you as we go in more depth into this important topic. Aloha.


3 thoughts on “Mid-Century Modern

  1. Wikopedia is not entirely accurate here (not shocking). There was a lot of MCM architecture that was themed around Tiki (though it was just a percentage – especially in the early years). Take for instance the “Royal Hawaiian Estates” (where Shag has a PS Condo); those were designed by architect Donald Wexler (he also designed the “Matched Set” print you’ve shown above – based on one of his Steel homes built by the Alexander Company). The A-Frames used were an element repeated often in MCM architectural design (like in the Charles Dubois designed Las Palmas homes by the Alexander Company). Another example in Palm Springs would be the “Sunrise Lanai” condominiums (also designed by Charles Dubois). Those are just a few examples in Palm Springs and countless examples exist in LA.

    Great research and intriguing article though!

    Great work Andy Panda!

    Regards, Jay Nailor
    SHAG the store

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