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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Tiki Aloha, Torrance, CA (apartments)

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Name:Tiki Aloha
Street:3505 Artesia Blvd

Tiki Aloha apts. Formerly the Tiki Taboo. One tiki left and some carved tiki posts.

The Tiki Aloha apartments started life as the Tiki Taboo, which in my opinion was a much finer and more exotic name. But evidently the word "Taboo" became embarrassing and non-pc during later decades, so the name was changed. Not sure when.

Puamana has a brochure from the Tiki Taboo which shows some fantastic tikis that no longer exist. What's left is a shadow of the former glory, but some treasures still reside within.

Good luck getting in though. Heavy security doors and gates block all entrances. The manager will not let you in for any reason unless you are a resident. Best bet is to wait for a resident to enter or leave and slip on in. After waiting half an hour with no luck, I eventually hopped a spiked fence.

Inside there is one strange looking tiki left. He's been painted, so he should survive some years yet. Based on the way his chest, mouth and eyes look, I'd bet he was carved by the same carver who did the tikis at the Islander in Gardena and the Kala Kai in Lomita.

There are also some carved posts that were done by the same carver as the ones in another apartment complex called the Island Breeze and possibly the same carver who did the posts around the pool at the Kala Kai:

Maybe we can convince Puamana to post some pictures from her vintage brochure. I'd sure like to compare the carving style of the tikis pictured.

Special thanks to TikiHula for hosting these photos on his gallery site.


Looks like his tounge is coming out of his nose? Maybe it was carved during the 60's? In Berkley?


Great photos, Sabu ! I didn't see this post until just now... I'll get some photos of the brochure I have and post some pics soon.


Here are pics of the Tiki Tabu brochure :

Bless you, Puamana! I was looking forward to seeing this.

So sad really that what was probably a very custom Poly-Pop living experience is now a very sad apartment complex. The tiki hut by the pool is gone. I wonder what happened to those "Authentic Polynesian Furnishings" inside each room. That tiki on the cover is in the classic style by that mysterious carver who did a lot of the South Bay apartments. The ridges on the nose and the high pec muscles on his chest are dead giveaways. I'm putting together an e-mail with photos of his work and sending it to Bob and LeRoy at Oceanic Arts to see if they have any leads. They believe there were at least 5 carvers doing work for apartments in the South Bay at that time.

Thanks again for posting this brochure. The names on the inside will help my archeological explorations.



You have captured the tiki essence of that apt complex, which is better in your photos, than in real life.

Isn't there another tiki apt complex (or 2) very near?

Tiki-Kate and I had the Tiki Aloha Apartments on our Torrance to do list, when we got there I saw two very un-helpful older residents just inside the gate who would not open it for us. They said we could call the manager but I chose not too and after reading Sabu's post it looks like that would have been a waste of time. Luckily I was able to stick my camera through a crack in the gate and get a picture of these stairway Tiki’s. Take that Aloha Tiki Residents! :P

On 2008-04-29 18:38, Bora Boris wrote:
Take that Aloha Tiki Residents! :P

And that!

The Tiki Aloha apartments are unique to me for several reasons:

One is the hilarious re-naming from "Tiki Tabu" to "Tiki Aloha", which is such a tell tale sign of the changing of sensibilities from the Tiki period to it falling out of favor. Where the original name tried to evoke the mysterious, dark and exotic mood of Polynesia and primitive art, the later re-christening was a symbol of the abolition of Tiki, aimed to make the name more palatable by choosing a politically correct, more generic term associated with Hawaii...yet at least they kept the title "Tiki".

And there are much more impressive, swooping A-frame examples, more elaborate landscaping and rec rooms in other Tiki apartments in the South land, PLUS Tiki Tabu's Tikis are not necessarily the best stylistic examples of the craft:

This "Nose-tongue Tiki", the last freestanding Tiki left at the complex, is just plain wrong, based on a sculptural misunderstanding. :roll:

But the other reason the Tiki Tabu (which is how I prefer to refer to it) is special is because I was able to obtain so much original material on it, which is rarer to find for apartments than for restaurants and motels, who back in the day produced more promotional paper products to market themselves. Not only does the splendid Tiki cut-out brochure exist in Puamana's archive, but thanks to being tipped off by a TC member, and a gracious collector bowing out of the e-bay auction, I was able to win a large format architect's portfolio containing otherwise unattainable material on this apartment building, of which I can now share the best bits with the TC brethren.

The original rendering of the Tiki Tabu can be seen on the apartment page in Tiki Modern, but here is a drawing made for an ad:

and clippings from the blue prints found in the portfolio:

The front facade logo was one of the very few that actually depicted a Tiki, one of the most modernist Marquesans I have seen done in the period:

...and the Janus faced Tiki shields on each side were pure Polynesian pop too:

This entrance Tiki, the one shown on the brochure,...

...does indeed look similar to the Islander apts one, as noted by Sabu earlier:

The portfolio contains some great Poly pop poetry such as the caption above. Here is another sample, mentioning the "modern/primitive" connotation I am so fond off:

Among the few details left in the mid-90s were the rope-bound bamboo coverings of the support posts (like they used to have at the Islander apts too)...

...the Tiki outrigger beams (here in a vintage photo):

...and the Tiki posts holding up the stairs:

But once the now barren courtyard was nicely dressed up and populated with many Tikis, here is a different version of the courtyard shot shown in Tiki Modern:

Here is a close up of the Tiki latched to the stairs railing:

And here a reverse, as seen from the rec room:

Here is the nice but tiny rec room, the size of which really shows that this was not one of the bigger budget Tikifications done in the period:

I do like THOSE Tikis, and seeing these images today makes us swoon at this Tiki paradise, but objectively speaking, though the "window dressing" label could be applied to all Poly pop, here it really was not much more than that. Nevertheless, these images are rare glimpses at the BIRTH of a mid-century Tiki dwelling, and I hope they will thrill you as much as they excite me. :)



You know...the older Tikis you see in these apartment complexes looks alot different than what you see the new guys doing today.

The simplified approach is really cool. Not that I don't like the work of today's carvers, but these have a different style to the carving...more minimalist and primitive looking.

What a great apartment complex tho....


Sven - Excellent post. Thanks for sharing those Dan Ostrow portfolio shots.

Now we need to find a 'Cowboy Central' web site to show his Western/Rancho themed apartment complex. I thought those apartment complex pics were a pretty funny compliment/contrast to the Tiki Tabu and showed his "wide range" of design skills.

I joined here so I could update about this apartment complex.
Because I sadly live here. I like the area, but this complex has a bad owner and an even worse manager.

The reason why people won't let non-residents in is because there have been major problems including one woman who was almost strangled by another and a guy stalking his ex-girl-friend. He would get into her apartment and the last time the cops found him under her bed with a knife.

There are strange people trying to get in here all the time.

They have not maintained this place the way they should have. The decorative pieces are falling apart. There are nails in the tiki posts and things hanging off of them. It's really sad. The front by the gate and mail boxes has been turned into a smoking area much to the dismay of the non-smokers here.

It's not worth trying to get in, there's nothing to see inside. There is no tiki decor left in any of the apartments (which are way too expensive for what you get and extremely noisy). The courtyard has bland umbrellas and tables and a Spanish style fountain. They cut almost all of the leaves off of the tropical plants and are growing rose bushes. Like I said, there are the tiki posts but they are not taken care of.

I thought this would be a cool place to live. I like the area. But it's not a good apartment complex now. I can't wait to move out. Sorry there is nothing special here to see.

Just thought I would write that the Tiki Aloha is being striped of what was left of it's Tikiness. Today they had roofers start removing all the roofs. Along with that they are tearing off the outrigger beams and I doubt very much that they will be replaced. Tomorrow they will be removing the rest of the roofs and trim and most likely that which is on the two peaks in the front. I would not be surprised if they remove the decorative bamboo there.

Only thing left are the bamboo styled posts at the front entrance and most of the rope is gone from those. And the tiki carved support posts. It's very sad since this bit of Tiki architecture was the biggest reason for choosing this apartment complex. Given how badly this place has been run I do not feel bad about leaving.

If they remove the tiki posts while I am still here I will update at that time. I know people still come by to try and take photos. No point if it's almost all been removed.

I unearthed some news stories and photos from the original Tabu Tiki apartments.

The grand opening ad which is based on the brochure pics posted by Bigbro.

Another ad with the Tiki, only 6 units left!

Another photo from Bigbro's brochure.

An article on the apartments.

This articles gives us some insight into the builder, Dan Ostrow. He lived in Tahiti and built the Tiki Tabu apartments after the Tahiti Village and Iorania Hotel in Papeete which he also built. Even married a Tahitian wife.

The public likes them!

Because They're Terrific!

Article on the upcoming apartments.


I went last weekend. My photos are very similar to Bora Boris's 2008 photos -- which is to say, there is not much tiki left.

The general shape of the building is certainly Poly-Pop and the landscaping is still pretty good.

I followed a resident through the gate thus gaining admission to the courtyard.

The only actual tikis remaining are these supports for the stairs.

And these for the second story.

I suspect the only reason they have endured is that they are structural and cannot be easily removed. I didn't get pictures of them, but the rope-wrapped posts by the front gate are also still there.

I didn't stay long but I didn't notice any of the problems mentioned by "Lost in LaLa Land". The neighborhood seemed fine. The overall maintenance of the building is good. The complex was quiet and peaceful. Don't be afraid to go if you want to see it.

It appears that they re-painted posts and re-stuccoed the exterior walls. If only the owners and residents could recognize the value of maintaining the original look, feel, and architectural elements of the complex. At least the tikis will have a chance to last longer with a coat of that brown paint. That's more care than many other tikis get in other places around Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Some of these old Polynesian pop buildings should get some sort of "cultural heritage" designation and award the owners some tax credits for preservation efforts. In the end, tossing financial incentives at these landlords (and management companies) may be the best way to help advance the preservation of these architectural wonders.

I wonder if any architectural societies may be interested in rallying around this sort of thing? What kind of organizations help recognize and preserve the work of other architects and cultural groups and their styles?

I love driving through LA and Orange County residential areas and suddenly having something tiki or Polynesian pop show up quite randomly.

Found this nice old photo showing the entire frontage of the Tiki Tabu Apartments.



I will be near here in a few weeks for a mini vacation... Asides finding out for myself obviously, is there anything left post removal of the roof etc?

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