354 Days of Sun

                                                        SHIMMERING SHACK!

On October 12, 2013 in Joshua Tree, Lucid Stead was revealed to the public.  This luminous art installation, by artist Phillip K Smith III, was comprised of an existing 70 year old homesteaders shack, LED lights and mirrors. Instantly it became the talk of the town with an explosion of posts on social media.  The images were so varied and continuously appealing because, like the landscape surrounding Lucid Stead, the structure itself was ever-changing in intensity and hue.  The LED lights were kept constantly in motion by a solar power panel provided by Hot Purple Energy, a locally based company.  

I was fortunate enough to see Lucid Stead mere days before it was dismantled in December 2013.  The structure was no longer in a pristine state with some of the mirrored panels missing and laying on the ground.  I enjoyed seeing the installation in it’s final condition as I felt it reflected the fierce conditions of it’s deceptively beautiful desert surroundings.  Like the state of the original homesteaders shack, over time the often oppressive wind, sun, and climate will take it’s toll on everything!  It represented Phillips desire to reveal “pace of change in the desert” perfectly!

Dismantled after 2 months, Smith restored the dwelling to it’s original state, sadly the installation is no longer able to be experienced in person. However, an excellent video about the project, complete with gorgeous footage of the lighting in motion and commentary from it’s creator, can be found HERE.  What a pleasure it was to recently find Lucid Stead living on as a fashion location in the current Saks Fifth Avenue Women’s Fashion Spring 2014 catalog.  Alas it’s spirit continues to evolve!

                                                           STYLISH LIVING!

Taking it to the next level, Mr. Cox Lifestyle Lounge is much more than a boutique!  With it’s eclectic collection of vintage couture, new fashions & accessories for men and women, this lair offers a whimsical shopping experience. 

The lounge is a welcoming area made up of a collection of black leather booths and chairs. Guests are encouraged to sit and chat while sipping on a refreshing beverage from the charming water bar.  Mr. Cox has the largest selection of international bottled water in the desert.  Admittedly, I felt quite “wordly” drinking my Hildon Water from England as I browsed the racks.

In addition to vintage pieces from names like Chanel, Dior, Gucci & Halston and new bespoke pieces by Mr. Cox, the store also carries home accents including pieces created by sculptor and master craftsman Don Drumm and coffee table books by Rizzoli. Sure to be a best seller are the adorable vintage-inspired swim trunks by men’s sportswear brand Parke & Ronen!

The goal of the team behind Mr. Cox Lifestyle Lounge was “to create a truly cosmopolitan space in Palm Springs which allows people to come in to browse, shop, enjoy a beverage, and hang out”.   Bravo…Mission accomplished!  While the shopping is top notch, it’s the relaxed and warm atmosphere that takes this posh parlor to another level!

106 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

                                                        THE 341ST DAY OF SUN

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
Jack Kerouac

Palm Springs, CA

                                                             SOARING STYLE!

Highest Form is a luxury lifestyle boutique located in the Palm Springs Uptown Design District.  Montreal native turned Palm Springs local, Robert D’Amour, opened his shop aspiring to add a needed “urban-feeling” store to the area.  His design mantra….”high quality fabrication and comfortable elegance”…how chic!

D’Amour has been a successful designer for 25 years, providing creative direction and product development for brands such as Hype, French Connection and eStyle.  The store is filled with his impressively tailored sportswear for men and women, leather goods, and a fine selection from other brands including J Brand, Velvet, Jet and Chan Luu. 

With a commitment to manufacturing his brand entirely in America, Monsieur D’Amour’s Highest Form is a perfect blend of luxe and casual…Oh la la!!

668 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

                                                               THE GOOD LIFE!

Bon Vivant has relocated to a fabulous new space in tony Palm Springs Uptown Design District!  The shop is now housed in the Kocher-Samson Building, designed by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher, an architecturally significant structure that has a wonderful and rich history.  Bon Vivant offers a finely curated selection of vintage jewelry & accessories for the home including Mid-Century glass and pottery.   Vintage pieces make for such special gifts or additions to a home as they are so unique…often one of a kind or one of a few!

Owners, James Bishop and Patrick Barry, generously share their knowledge about every piece in the store and the artisans who created them.  James’ expertise is in California Pottery 1930-1970 and specializing in Gladding McBean/Interpace 1875-1984 known for producing Franciscan Dinnerware.  Patrick’s in 20th century ceramics, metal-ware and glass with a specialty in Californian Decorative Arts 1890-1990.

The Kocher-Samson Building, designated a Class 1 historic site, offers as much for Mid-Century Modern enthusiasts to experience as the items inside it!  Commissioned by Kocher’s brother, the first doctor in Palm Springs, this building would be the last collaboration for Frey and Kocher as partners.  Working on this project resulted in Frey permanently moving from New York to Palm Springs where he was inspired by the desert landscape and felt he could be a pioneer in his craft.  A fascinating excerpt from a biography about Albert Frey that includes photos of the building during construction and it’s early years can be found HERE.

Be warned…your inner ‘bon vivant’ is sure to emerge as you linger in this mesmerizing store!!!

766 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

                                                                  LOVE(ly) NEST!

Doug and Josie Smith, the couple behind Palm Springs’ Korakia Pensione, have done it again!  Formerly the El Rancho Lodge, a rustic boutique hotel built in the 1950’s, the Smiths seem to have paid homage to it’s original ambiance while adding a hip and modern flare to their Sparrows Hotel

Painstakingly renovated over two years, a crew of 5, some of whom now work at the hotel, clearly poured a lot of heart in to their work.  Wood was salvaged when possible and items re-purposed like horse troughs as bathtubs.  These fine touches speak volumes about the philosophy of the hotel….communal, organic and laid back!  Walking the 20-room property evokes a feeling of stepping in to a Wes Anderson movie…and it doesn’t get any cooler than that!

Speaking of movies…the property originated in 1951 as Castle’s Red Barn.   Don Castle was a Hollywood actor and the Red Barn was one of the original desert getaways for the Hollywood elite.   Eventually it became the El Rancho Lodge and maintained it’s status as a “Hollywood Hacienda.”  In fact, legend has it iconic actress Elizabeth Montgomery had her first marriage there…how BEWITCHING!

Enjoy craft beers and fine wine while lounging in the barn, nestle in an Adirondack chair while sitting around the communal fire, have a laugh playing Horseshoes with your mates…without a doubt visions of hipster weddings, Coachella coolness and chic poolside weekends soar to mind when thinking about this charming desert roost!

1330 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

                                                             DESERT DYNASTY!

Power, philanthropy and sunshine….just a few elements that make up the history that is Sunnylands!  This significant property, generously endowed to the public after the passing of Leonore Annenberg, is a site to behold. 

Walter and Leonore Annenberg hired famed modernist architect A. Quincy Jones to construct their dream estate on an expansive parcel of land in Rancho Mirage.  At the time in the mid-60’s, Rancho Mirage was little more than desert sand and tumbleweeds…the location reveals a boldness and vision including asking their modern architect to incorporate symbolic Mayan references throughout. 

The visitor’s center and tour are elegantly constructed and do justice to honoring the history of the property and it’s creators.   Their home is in tact just as it’s Annenberg’s lived in it. The mesmerizing interiors were designed by William Haines and Ted Graber.  The walls at Sunnylands are adorned with an array of photographs revealing close family ties and powerful connections from Hollywood stars to Presidents to Royalty! 

Often referred to as a “West Coast Camp David,” Sunnylands has hosted many high-level retreats.  Most recently, President Obama chose Sunnylands as the venue to meet President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China for the first time.  This historic meeting took place over the course of two days on June 7-8, 2013.  Of Sunnylands, President Xi was quoted as saying, “This is a wonderful place, a place of sunshine.”

No pictures are allowed to be taken inside the home, however, some can be seen on the Sunnyland’s website. Why not take the tour and see it with your own eyes..you’ll definitely be impressed!

37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage

                                                       CRAZY…SEXY…COOL!!!

Hard Rock Hotel has opened in Palm Springs and to say it’s colorful is an understatement!  Chalk full of their customary Rock n’ Roll essence this hotel is sure to be a popular destination for revelers looking to kick up their heels and have some FUN.  Located right in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, guests are walking distance to many popular bars, restaurants, shops and the Spa Resort Casino.

Adding to the excitement is the new partnership between Goldenvoice, creators of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach: California’s Country Music Festival, and the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs.  Goldenvioice will produce live poolside music events throughout the year including special events and packages during the festivals.

This big name in hospitality is a great addition to the city of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley in general!  Let the good times roll!!

150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

 THROWBACK THURSDAY!!
Duran Duran photographed on the Sunset Strip in 1982…gotta love the billboard in the background!  30 years later and the message still applies!

 THROWBACK THURSDAY!!

Duran Duran photographed on the Sunset Strip in 1982…gotta love the billboard in the background!  30 years later and the message still applies!

                                    AIRSTREAM DREAMS AND CAMPER WISHES

Caravaning started as a means for artists or laborers to live while traveling for work.  Imagine the wacky and wild life of circus performers on the road. The “gypsy life” has an incredible allure that allows every new day to be unique.  It’s no wonder that as Recreational Vehicles became perfected as mini-homes, nomadic camper life evolved from work to pleasure for many. 

The oldest R.V. ever created is The Airstream Trailer.  It’s founder, Wally Byam, was an avid camper who created his own trailer by attaching a platform to the back of his car then erecting a tent on it once at his destination. The tent was outfitted with conveniences such as an ice cooler and kerosene stove. Eventually he designed an aerodynamic “tear-drop-shaped” shelter and permanently attached it to the platform.  He sold a “built it yourself guide” to like-minded individuals interested in a trailer of their own for one dollar each.  The fascinating history of The Airstream can be found on their website HERE.

Naturally I was fascinated when I learned that popular Palm Springs real estate agent, Matthew Reader, had decided to buy and live in to an Airstream.  I love that he bought the trailer on Ebay while watching a band play at Coachella earlier this year!  The 1988 Airstream Excella 1000 was delivered from Montana to the Happy Traveler R.V. Park by the owner.  Nestled at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, the park offers epic views…prime real estate indeed!

In nice shape but in need of a major renovation, Matthew painstakingly toiled on the trailer decorating it with flare and a very retro sensibility.  Along with fully painting the interior, he decked out the R.V. with vintage furnishings & accessories, added new upholstery, flooring, appliances, cabinet doors and counter-tops, plumbing, lighting and even landscaping!  Matthew offers “fun facts” about the trailer, “It’s 32’ long, and almost 8’ wide.  That’s about 250 square feet. It weighs 8200 pounds with nothing in it. My station wagon won’t tow it.”

Matthew grew up trailer camping with his family in the 70’s. Though they did not have an Airstream he always wished they did. It’s nice to know some dreams do come true!  Of his new home, Matthew says he feels like he’s on vacation every morning waking up in a trailer. How lovely is that?  He intends “to travel with this as well as live in it. Wally Byam used to organize caravan groups where travelers would take their Airstreams to tour Africa and Europe.  I’d love to ship mine overseas sometime and tour”.


Bon voyage Happy Traveler…Bon voyage!

211 West Mesquite Avenue, Palm Springs

                                              “GLAMOUR BEGINS AT HOME”

                                 Palm Springs Life Magazine - September 2013

I love it when my world’s collide!  Alex Long, represented by my agency Nous Model Management, is featured on the cover and 16 pages of the September issue of Palm Springs Life Magazine.   PSL is the premier lifestyle magazine of my favorite city so for me this is all so much fun!  The Annual Desert Living Edition is also produced with a hard cover and can be found at the best hotels all year round so it’s a great issue to be published in. 

The color-rich ‘Studio 54-inspired’ story was shot by photographer Jiro Schneider at the stunning "Las Palmas Oasis" house designed by famed architect Arthur Elrod.  To see the entire story be sure to pick up a copy of this beautifully edited and incredibly informative issue!

Fashion Editor/Stylist:  Jules Moore (who’s designs I’ve featured on 354 before, click HERE to read more about Jules)

Hair Stylist:  Andre Blaise (who along with his beautiful wife owns Flow Modern Design, click HERE to read my profile on their fabulous store)

Makeup Artist: Annie Ing

                                                             RAISING THE BAR!    

Simply called “Bar" but don’t let the name fool you…great cocktails aren’t the only thing on offer at this locals-favorite in Palm Springs.  Bar dishes up fine eats on top of being a super-fun watering hole!  With an emphasis on musical ambiance and friendly service, Bar delivers a chill experience without sacrificing quality.

Owner and Palm Springs native, Donovan Funkey, takes clear pride in offering cocktails made using fresh juice, fruits and herbs. Adding to the experience are the thoughtfully selected spirits and craft beers. 

Feeling hungry? The food selection is perfect for every mood!  Nosh on classic bar snacks like mixed nuts, chicken wings or deviled eggs or enjoy heartier fare like Chicago-style pizza, lobster sliders or a juicy cheeseburger and fries.

Most evenings Bar has something musical going on, from live Jazz to Karaoke to DJ’s spinning killer tunes that keep the dance floor hopping. A great way to keep up with nightly events at Bar is to follow their Instagram or Facebook pages.

Bar is a great addition to the Palm Springs social scene so whether you’re a local or just visiting be sure put this hotspot on the top of your list!

340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

                                                                SPA-TACULAR!!!


Hands down the best spa in the desert is the Palm Springs Yacht Club at The Parker Palm Springs.  It’s a little awkward snapping pictures while people are lounging in fluffy white robes and trying to relax so I didn’t try but believe me the space is incredibly beautiful! 

PSYC offers the perfect moment to escape… Pristine locker-rooms loaded with fabulous products. Eucalyptus scented steam rooms. A quiet room that is a Moroccan-themed dream.  In addition to the top notch treatments guests while away the day with activities like floating in the indoor or outdoor pools, getting mani-pedis, or taking a yoga class. 

My favorite thing to do after a PSYC day of relaxation is head over to Norma’s and have a late lunch with a glass (or two!) of Rose… Aaaaahhh bliss!

                                                      SPIRITED SMORGASBORD

There is something about a classy food and wine event that easily justifies a bit of daytime drinking! Recently I attended the Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert and let’s just say I got my money’s worth!  Picture this…ample servings of delicious food and dessert from some of the desert’s best local restaurants… generous pours of the finest wines and champagnes… cooking demonstrations courtesy of celebrity chefs… seminars from top winemakers and expert’s sharing their wisdom about how to enjoy and understand wine. Sounds amazing doesn’t it?  Well it is and you can attend the next Food & Wine Festival in Palm Desert between March 21st - 23rd in 2014.  Save the date and I’ll see you there!

Located under the “big white tent” on Larkspur Lane between El Paseo and Shadow Mountain in Palm Desert

                                                         TALK OF THE TOWNE! 

There is a gem of a store in the city of Palm Springs… Towne!  Located at The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five, a building that houses a collective of fabulous decorative arts boutiques, Towne offers vintage furniture, accessories and gifts. Even the building itself, the iconic Harold Hicks building designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1955, lends to the experience! 

Here’s a little 411 on the “Men about Towne”…the shop is owned by two charming & creative men, Brandon Hoskins and Stephen Wilson.  These two seem to be brilliant at everything they endeavor to try! Brandon was a successful hair dresser and owned his own salon in Los Angeles, he then went on to launch his own interior design business, Brandon Hoskins Designs.  After a tenure at Disney, Stephen founded a successful graphic design firm, Wilson Design Group.  Currently both live in Palm Springs and buy and restore architectural homes.  As if they didn’t have enough on their plate, Stephen and Brandon recently gave themselves the best justification for a shopping habit…a fabulous store to fill!

On this day, like many times before, I overheard several shoppers tell the proprietors how much they loved their store. Sentiments were generously bestowed about the beautifully curated and inspirational space.  With a vibe that offers a mixture of pedigree, whimsy and just plain pretty, you are sure to find unique pieces for yourself and others when you hit Towne!

1345 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs