John Skewes’ Great Tiki Soap Odyssey

Bubbletown Tiki Soap-On-a-Rope
Bubbletown Tiki Soap-On-a-Rope

Product designer John Skewes has a wonderful story on his blog. Several years ago (2002, I think?), he designed the product shown here, a tiki soap-on-a-rope. He says it’s probably his favorite among the products he’s designed, because he got to come up with an original design (rather than using licensed characters), and he’s a tiki collector himself.

In his post, he walks through the process of coming up with a unique-but-still-true-to-tiki tiki design, finding inspiration in his own mug collection — and he touches on how plagiarism has always been pandemic in Polynesian Pop. The tiki soap sold pretty well, and as happens with tiki designs, it started to show up in other places…

Tiki lighters
Tiki lighters

…like these tiki lighters. Which explains why when I first started reading his post, I thought “hey, that’s the tiki lighter!” Some scoundrels totally stole the design! John even lines up his original concept sketch with the lighter, and bang howdy, it syncs right up.

As if that weren’t enough — John’s soap is one of the examples shown on a website demonstrating the effectiveness of a 3-D scanning tool… which was probably used by the folks who ripped off his design for the lighter.

Tiki design rip-offs, made easy!
Tiki design rip-offs, made easy!

John takes it all in stride, and is quite flattered. (Don’t take that as a sign that it’s okay to take his, or anyone else’s, designs — it’s bad juju!) Be sure to go check out his whole post, it’s always neat to see a tiki lover getting to bring their passion to work.

6 thoughts on “John Skewes’ Great Tiki Soap Odyssey

  1. I just came across this post and recognized the tiki immediately. My husband used to work as a visual designer (making the physical props) for Quiksilver and had a whole warehouse of tikis that were used in the design and I am 99.999% sure that we have a whole set of cups with that exact same tiki in the garage somewhere* – probably stolen design from the soap mold too. How terrible!

    *the props were used for cyclical sales pieces and when the sales were over, the pieces were discarded, which we couldn’t stand, so we have boxes full of “trash” decor items. Most of them are reproductions, but most of the things that he had in his warehouse were from flea markets and such. I guess I should look through them now and see if they can find some loving tiki homes!


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