Trade Winds: Los Angeles, CA. 2018
Tiki Culture, Paradise & Appropriation
Editorial Design, Art Direction
For a while in mid-century America, Tiki was king of the land. With Polynesian-themed hotels, restaurants, cocktails, theme parks, apartment condos, music, movies and more, America’s infatuation with the Hawaiian Islands and Polynesian culture reached a fever pitch before suddenly collapsing. Urban islands and bamboo hideaways set the stage for a pop culture phenomenon like no other. Fueled by popular literature, music, and Hollywood movies, the people of mainland USA fabricated a romantic vision of Polynesia that ignored complex realities of native culture in favor of an idealized island fantasy.
Trade Winds: Tiki Culture, Paradise & Appropriation examines tiki culture and a variety of associated topics. The book investigates, from a number of perspectives, the origins of tiki culture and the broader topic of cultural appropriation. Texts from the 17th century and 1940s are presented alongside contemporary discourse.
Appropriation is a prominent topic in current debates on culture, yet the notion itself remains nebulous. What defines the ownership of culture? Where do we draw the line between appropriation and appreciation? How do we look at this topic in the 21st century? Taking these questions as a starting point, Trade Winds aims to create a framework for debate and, in doing so, create a more complete understanding of the relationship between culture and appropriation.
We are looking backward to look forward. The act of studying the past prompts us to imagine the new forms that appropriation and cultural production may take in the future.
A special thanks to Brad Bartlett, Alessandro Stella, SGD team, and Elsa Tsai.