From San Fran to LA, from LA to Palm Springs and on to Joshua Tree we managed to clock up just over 1000 km on this west coast trip and loved every minute. As we left the coast behind at Laguna Beach and picked up Highway 10 east we entered Americana-land en route to Palm Springs. Although I had seen lots of images, I had no particular expectations of this desert oasis…this trip was a chance to reset, gather ideas and inspiration for a revived era of Elements i love. As we passed billboards featuring Elvis in nowheresville, Tex Mex road side diners, Walmarts and tired looking casinos, hundreds of crisp, white, ethereal wind turbines appeared mirage like as we passed through San Gorgonia basin – an unexpected delight to this visual junkie.
Palm Springs is nestled in the Coachella Valley, amongst various mountain ranges; the San Bernardino Mountains to the north, the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south, the San Jacinto Mountains to the west and the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the east, home to Joshua Tree. Out of nowhere a little low rise city dotted with palm trees emerges in this extraordinary landscape. The town has a rich history of mid century design and architecture and the pinnacle for many mid century design aficionados is Modernism Week held every February. We are not die hard buffs but do love the architecture of the period and took in a 2 hour driving tour that covered a lot of ground 🙂 It gave us plenty of insights around the movement, stand out homes and buildings along with historical transformation of the town and the challenges in retaining the uniqueness of it today.
But it is not all about mid century-Palm Springs is home to more than 20 neighbourhoods, all with charming names; Old Las Palmas, Little Tuscany, Chino Canyon including less well known areas like Araby Cove. On one of our first buying trips to Buenos Aires I fell in love with Spanish colonial architecture and adobe buildings, and there are pockets of rustic ranch side kitsch to be found around town too.
High on my list of favourite experiences are spaces that marry great food & architecture, Workshop Bar & Kitchen did just that. Housed inside the El Paseo building on Palm Canyon Drive, the existing structure dates from 1926, the style used to describe the exterior is Spanish Eclectic. In contrast to the interior, a fab modern space with soaring ceilings, exposed beams and concrete – more of an industrial warehouse vibe, I felt right at home here!
For a spectacular view of the Coachella Valley and the surrounding mountains the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers a unique perspective. We were there in early December and had to wear every piece of clothing we owned, the wind was freezing at over 8000 feet! But on the other side of the mountain, there was no wind and there are a number of short hikes or walks – great if you are travelling with kids and need to wear them out..or just want to get a little closer to the environment you are in.
The cold temps were also a great excuse for a hot chocolate whilst taking in the view & my surroundings, a touch El Rancho meets Colorado in the mountain top restaurant 🙂
With the sun setting behind the mountains it was time to retreat to the design-lovers hotel of choice, the Parker Palm Springs, inspiring interiors inside and out by Johnathan Adler…but more about that next time! See you at the Parker. x Brooke
- Practical Info & Fave Finds
Antiques & Vintage: there were plenty of places but these are our pick.
Stewart Galleries a curated collection of furniture mirrors across all periods, also eclectic selection of art/paintings from across America.
A la Mod inc great selection of mid-century but also 80’s and 90’s coolness.
Aerial Tramway – first tram up if you want the daytime view & a walk, or late afternoon for a drink and the lights over the valley-last tram down is 9pm.
Workshop Bar and Kitchen – ultra cool bistro, the food matched the architecture
Peninsula Pastries – French bread and super yum pastries |
no website : 611 S Palm Canyon Dr #1, Palm Springs
On the Mark – Loved this deli – excellent selection of everything here, we stocked up for the next leg of trip to Joshua Tree.
Palm Springs Museum (& Design Centre)
Korakia Pensione – charming looking accom next visit!
Architecture Tour – others available, but we went with Trevor O’Donnell