The grand finale to our Palm Springs adventure was a visit to the “Ship of the Desert,” Trina Turk and Jonathan Skow’s beloved modernist home. The house had originally been commissioned by the Davidson family during the Great Depression as a winter retreat. In 1936, California Arts and Architecture magazine featured the home on its cover that had previously only shown traditional architecture and interiors. The house was so unusual that it inspired a transformation of the entire region to embrace modernist design.

Via Loews Magazine

The Art Moderne house was built by the architecture team of Wilson and Webster.  In addition to the distinctive streamlined architecture, the house was also innovative in that it was designed from the inside out. The interiors and built in furnishings were part of the earliest stages of planning the house. The original designer, Honor Easton, worked with the architects very closely to ensure no details were left out. In fact, when the American Institute of Architects honored the house in 1938, Easton was named in the award, not the architects Wilson and Weber.

Via Palm Springs Life

In 1998, Trina Turk and Jonathan Skow previewed the house at the urging of their realtor.  It was not in the style, size, or location they had originally wanted, but they fell in love and bought it. Halfway through the renovation, a devastating fire destroyed most of the house and they had to rebuild. This gave them the opportunity to work with Marmol Radziner, a Santa Barbara firm, that specializes in museum quality mid-century modern restorations. They worked with the original architectural plans and followed them to the exact specifications including plumbing fixtures and hardware. The curved walls and redwood balconies resemble a ship’s deck.

Trina and Jonathan have filled the house with abstract works of art, textiles and furnishings ranging from the 1930s-70s. The living room has lighting around the perimeter of the ceiling to actuate the curved shape. All views are oriented towards the vista of the Coachella Valley or towards the swimming pool which was added to the house in the 1950s. The elevation of the pool adds to its privacy…one only sees mountains or palm trees in any direction. in any direction.

JetSetModernist  described the house perfectly…“The house sits proudly on its hill, commanding presence, like a patriarch enjoying the brood of rambunctious mid-century modern children gathered at its feet. Thanks to the foresight of its saviors and current stewards, it will continue to transform the acolytes of architecture who visit it for generations to come.”

After a fabulous tour, we were treated to an amazing meal poolside.  All ingredients were locally sourced and included honey Jonathan had extracted himself….very impressive. Their hospitality made our trip beyond memorable. The “Ship of the Desert” wholeheartedly embodies the lifestyle that Trina Turk represents.  She claims that Palm Springs is her muse and we could not agree more!  Our creative pilgrimage to the desert left all of us feeling very inspired and ready to channel our experiences into our respective fields. Thanks to Trina and Jonathan for making us feel so welcome!

Until next time!
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