Things to Do in Palm Springs
Two designers go stateside and discover some interesting things to do in Palm Springs
Designers Imogen Tunnicliffe and Holly Clarke of Citta Design visited Palm Springs to inspire their latest collection, Wish You Were Here, Postcards from Palm Springs. Here are their top things to do in Palm Springs:
1. Moorten Botanical Garden
Imogen: An incredible display and garden of what seems like every cactus variety known to man (although probably it is just small selection). You wander through the gardens following bone-dry pathways, peering at all these implausible plants that look like they are drawn from someone’s imagination. One of the best bits was the glasshouse, housing the more subtropical varieties – overgrown, dangly, tiny, blobby, hairy, fuzzy and triffid-like – it was like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
2. Kaufmann House
Imogen: “We only got to see this from the outside but it was a beautiful piece of architecture that worked so well with the surrounding landscape. The contrast of the jumble of round boulders, the spiky cacti poking out between them, the clean straight lines alongside the big open spaces within the house, and of the surrounding sky. The clever way [architect Richart Neutra] combined heavy and light materials together. The iconic pool and surrounding area (which we couldn’t see from the outside). This is a truly fantastic piece of architecture that embraced its surroundings in true Desert Modern style.
3. The Parker Hotel and Spa
Holly: The interiors at the Parker Hotel were designed by renowned interior designer and ceramist Jonathan Adler and are a great take on Californian modernism. Plus The Lemonade Stand poolside offers some of the best lemon cocktails I have ever tried — a relief from the incessant desert heat.
Imogen: We popped in to have a look at the spa on our last day here. It was luxury at its most luxurious! We used the shower facilities, and there was everything you would ever need right at your fingertips, right down to free hairbrushes. The colours of the walls were deep navy, and the indoor heated pool was surrounded by Bedouin-style tents housing fresh fruit and fragrantly infused sparkling water.
4. The Desert
Imogen: Just drive out there and take it all in. It’s a vastness we don’t get in New Zealand, and it is very powerful and mesmerising. The huge mountains encompassing the Coachella Valley, the flat starkness of the desert itself, the dry windy heat, the enormous sky, and the way it all dwarfs the man-made structures. The wind farms are worth a look too. Miles of massive, futuristic-looking white windmills, standing sentinel on the sand dunes.
5. Architectural Interiors Tour by Michael Stern
Holly: On this trip we visited the Frey House which was designed by the architect for himself. It was such a great little home built into the rocky surroundings. There was no furniture, so he designed custom-made cabinetry to fit into these bespoke spaces. It was a bit like being on a boat.
6. Kings Highway Diner at the Ace Hotel
Holly: We had the best mahi mahi tacos with a mango habanero salsa. So good I had it twice!
7. The Palm Springs Art Museum
Imogen: An incredible modernist building in its own right designed by E Stewart Williams, and a fantastic collection of contemporary and traditional art from the area.
8. The Joshua Tree National Park
Holly: We really wanted to visit, but the day we wanted to go there was a warning on the National Parks’ website. There were wild bees swarming because they were looking for water, so drink bottles and car radiators were a bit of a target due to the major drought. In 42-degree heat and climbing, the thought of leaving a drink bottle behind was not an option. So it’s on my list for next time.
9. Vintage shopping
Imogen: We headed to the Palm Springs design district to do a bit of perusing and potential shopping – it was insanely tempting (although not cheap!) We found out subsequently that neighbouring suburb Cathedral City has now become the place to go for modernist vintage finds.