Sometimes a design project comes along that is not only fun and different but challenges us to really put our creative talents to work. Restaurant Interior Design requires a unique set of talents. Inspiration comes to us from so many places – travel, art, memories, museums, and books are all very influential in my life. So when I received a call from an acquaintance about creating the interior of the new 8th Avenue Tiki Bar in Myrtle Beach, my creative side jumped at the chance even though my logical side reminded me that my calendar was rather busy. I grew up in Southern California and lived in Los Angeles for over ten years – in the epicenter of funky coffee shop architecture, kitschy restaurant interior design, and, yes, Trader Vic’s, since 1936 the granddaddy of all Tiki Bars.
So where did we start? One of a designer’s biggest challenges is communicating our ideas to the client, so I started with a collection of photos of old-style Tiki chic – the bamboo-clad interiors, the Polynesian A-frame facades, and of course the Tiki statues, Easter Island heads, and vintage tropical print fabrics. Then, I met with the clients and discussed their goals for the business, who the clientele would be, and what they needed from me. We visited the empty building, in a fantastic location right by the Boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, and went over the architect’s plans together. Once I had a sense of the layout we were able to look at my ideas for wall finishes, fabrics, art, lighting and furnishings, and the clients showed me what they liked among the photos I had put on a display board. Since this will be a nice restaurant as well as a fun bar, the goal is to include many of the nostalgic elements of an old Tiki Bar to give the place a sense of fun. But, they want to keep the kitschy elements from overwhelming the interior to give diners a quality, modern restaurant experience. After hours, they’ll have a club-like atmosphere as vacationers and locals will find it a great place to stop in from the boardwalk. Here’s my mood board for the initial meeting:
To give the place the moody, cave-like feeling of an old Tiki Bar, we decided on a dark blue-black color for the floor and ceiling, and tropical bamboo wallpaper. Real bamboo poles will cover the 50 foot long bar, and the top will be finished like an island hut with rustic tin roofing. An artist from New York has been commissioned to paint colorful, original Tiki paintings, and we’ll add some unique folk art plus a few surprises. Here is what the space looks like now:
Here’s how the ideas and colors on the board become the real-life interior of Myrtle Beach’s only Tiki Bar:
If you’d like to add some Tiki-Chic to your home, there are plenty of resources online – BambooandTikis.com and Critiki.com are both fun to check out.