Moroccan meets Modernism in Palm Springs [pt 3]

Having nattered on in two prior posts about my 50 hours in Palm Springs—with a photo-focus on Korakia Pensione’s 1924 Moroccan half plus a few scenes from the property’s Mediterranean side that were heavily inspired by certain museum exhibits—why keep going? Perhaps because I’m a sucker for seeming overlaps between nature and nurtured.

Thanks to my extended family’s “like it or lump it” stance to travel lodgings, I’ve now collected more opinions about how to leave home than I have chances or money to so. Crashing with relatives? Bearable-to-enjoyable (ditto for hosting). Crime-scene-aura motels, all-inclusive resorts, and rental homes with zero privacy? Punishment for past transgressions.

When I’m able to travel for pleasure, then—and have the added luxury of the stars aligning so I can choose one-off lodgings over chains—I strive to manipulate my eat/sleep/play funds so that a spot with a decent-enough view sits near the top of the priority list. When the budget is smaller, I’ll angle for tents or cabins; when larger, a modest room in a place with a lot of appealing common areas is the yin to my vacationing like the other half lives yang.

Which is why I ended up splurging on one of Korakia’s more budget-friendly rooms for my trip to Palm Springs.

Given that I’ve already documented my appreciation for the pensione’s boho luxe surroundings, I make no pretense to objectivity about where I ended up. If I’d been shown to a hammock with portapotty access I’d probably have nodded, smiled, and handed over my credit card while chirping, “Make sure to add a generous tip for your trouble!”

Of course I can’t say that settling into a zone with non-corporate furnishings + high ceilings + operable bathroom windows + french doors opening to a lightly-trod courtyard created a lot of momentum to go off and explore.

Limnos might be one of Korakia’s more smaller-scale (aka lower-priced) rooms, but it packs a big style/beauty punch

And for a while it was debatable whether I’d overcome my natural Argon-esque tendencies.

Sure, a getaway that included getting up, up, and away would expose my eyeballs to a completely different set of wonders than what I could see from my bed. But why bother to leave such a charming temporary nest?

I never did come up with a definitive answer before setting off. But after tromping along a trail that made my distance from water and modern conveniences brazenly clear and rotating ever-upward from a parched desert roadway to the snowy climes of Mount San Jacinto State Park, I felt my perspective do more than literally shift.

Harder and easier ways to get above Palm Springs abound: Top, Hiking Palm Canyon’s West Fork Trail; bottom, taking the Aerial Tram thousands of feet above the desert floor to snowy scenery

Though I’m pretty sure it’s far from news to those who’ve ever studied the area’s architecture, I was suddenly tuning into how many of the city’s modernist landmarks appeared to amp up or mimic the surrounding landscape’s colors, textures, and formations.

From the Orbit In’s layered overhangs and saturated orange…

 The Orbit In hotel, a Palm Springs modernist landmark, is beloved for its double soffit (photos courtesy of my travel companion)

…to the pale ochre, green, and brown palettes favored by many famous and random area residences…

A true oasis in the desert, Palm Canyon’s landscape includes a creek that accents a winding grove of California Fan Palms

Top, a 1957 tract house from father/son developers George and Robert Alexander is another local landmark; bottom, an anonymous-to-me beauty

…to the heavily striated and coarsely textured patterning used by prolific architects such as E Stewart Williams…

Palm Canyon and its many California Fan Palms are both protected and shared by members of the Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribe

Alas, my photo doesn’t do justice to the way architect E Stewart Williams incorporated desert colors and textures into his design for the Palm Springs Desert Museum (now the Palm Springs Art Museum)

the city is rife with references to the desert with which it co-exists.

As enjoyable as my visit was, I’ve spent my entire life in relatively lush climates and admit I can never completely relax in areas where water is such a scarce commodity. Because it certainly doesn’t seem as if it would take much for the desert to reclaim its territory—does it?

Top, sleek and stark against the desert sky (photo courtesy of my travel companion); bottom, nature continues to encroach on human handiwork

Touring Palm Springs Modernist Landmarks: Online Resources 101

  1. Palm Springs Modern Committee’s Desert Modernism Timeline
  2. Self-Guided Midcentury Modern Tour (photos + history snippet)
  3. Palm Springs Preservation Society “Then and Now photos” (mixed eras)
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3 Responses

  1. I’m glad you didn’t stay inside the heavenly Korakia – the surrounding landscape is beautiful! I love the way you’ve found local buildings echoing the desert and the mountains- in colours and shapes. Many years ago I visited the outskirts of the Sahara, very similar to your photos, and I’ve always wanted to go back. But with the current political situation I think Palm Springs is a safer bet!

  2. Tine—

    Thanks for making it through the final installment (final tally of hours away to photos shared ratio = 2:1). Yes, more lounging vs more seeing battled it out pretty heavily but I too am glad I had the chance to see a bit more of the area!

    I think the scope of the Sahara might have induced panic attacks in me, but what an amazing experience to have had. I agree you might need to pick another desert to explore…it won’t do to have you caught in political intrigue.

  3. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after going through a few of the posts I realized it’s
    new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

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