Thursday, December 2, 2010

What is Witco?

Witco started out as Western International Trading Company and imported South Pacific home furnishing items like Capishell Lamps. The company co-founders and artists were Ron Hovde and Bill Westenhaver.

As well as their business dealings in decorative imports they also had an interest in carving which eventually evolved into the rough cedar chain saw carved furniture and Tikis that Witco, as it became more commonly known, became famous for.

The artwork and production plant in Mt. Vernon, Washington eventually sold $15 million worth of Witco products throughout the world over a 10 year run in the 1970's.

One of their best customers must have been Elvis! The King's Jungle Room at Graceland is furnished almost entirely with Witco furniture. Most homes could get away with a feature piece or two, but not so Elvis as it would seem that his insatiable appetite for food was matched by his love of Witco! His Jungle Room features a full couch, a half-dozen chairs, tables, a cabinet, and a tiki bar with stools. Finished off with a lime green shag carpet not only on the floor but the ceiling as well!

p277 to 293 in the essential book Tiki Modern have a wonderful section on Witco and the legacy that it has left behind. In coming weeks I'll feature some of the work of Bosko, one of my favourite artists, which has a Witco flavour that I love.

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