More About the Author
Sven Kirsten is the author of the "Book of Tiki", widely acknowledged as the bible of the style, and "Tiki Modern", which further explores Tiki style's relation to mid-century modernism. Sven was born in the the German port town of Hamburg in 1955. His childhood impressions gathered at Hagenbeck's Zoo, at the Hamburg Anthropology Museum, and the sailors' bars of the St. Pauli red light district left him with a longing for distant shores, and in 1980 he emigrated to California. Here he continued his career in the film industry by studying at the San Francisco Art Institute and the American Film Institute. He left the AFI to join the vibrant music video production scene in Los Angeles in the 1980s, photographing music videos for such diverse talents as Tom Waits, Sergio Mendes, Billy Joel and The Cramps.
It was this love for visuals that inspired Sven to collect and photograph the remnants of the forgotten culture of Polynesian pop in America, leading him to identify the Tiki as its icon. As a hunter and gatherer of lost artifacts and ephemera of this phenomenon, he began to see the pattern of a unique art form, and decided to publish his findings in the "Book of Tiki" in September 2000. For the first time, the book presented all the aspects of Tiki style, its design, graphics, architecture, social culture and cocktail mixology, proving that it had been an art form in its own right, a fact which had not been recognized in its heyday. The book put Tiki firmly on the map of American pop culture, and is regarded as the standard work on the style. As it began to inspire a Tiki revival, Kirsten lectured, wrote and advised on Tiki culture in the United States and in Polynesia.
In 2007 Sven followed suit with his second book, "Tiki Modern", in which he concentrated on the juxtaposition of Pop primitivism and mid-century modernism, a key element of Tiki style. In 2010 he published his first music compilation, "The Sound of Tiki", a CD album with a 50 page booklet putting the songs into context with Tiki culture, to be enjoyed in conjunction with his books.
While regularly working as a cinematographer on German TV movies in such international locations as Capetown, St. Petersburg and Prague, at home in Los Angeles Sven advises on new Tiki restaurants being built, curates Tiki exhibitions, and designs Tiki mugs. He is currently working on his third Tiki book, which will serve as the catalog for the large Tiki exhibition he is curating for the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, to open in the summer of 2014.