The Insider’s Guide To Palm Springs

Long before the crowds of hipsters, models and Kardashians descended upon the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs was the OG Hollywood hangout. We’re pretty sure we’re not alone in being tired of those long Coachella days, so we thought you might need some alternative inspiration this April for your upcoming trip to the desert.

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Palm Springs is full of hidden treasures, so we went straight to the experts to get the lowdown on the best of the city. Lauren Coleman (a PS native), Tiff Horn and Sarah Kissell are the brains behind a gorgeous new magazine celebrating the arts, aesthetic and unique woman power behind Palm Springs, DUNES. (Photos from the first issue above and below.) Here, they dish on their faves.

BEST PLACE TO EAT

“We love El Marisol Mexican Restaurant at Los Arboles Hotel. It’s been around forever, the food is spicy and the margaritas are strong. In addition to this, we love Palm Greens Cafe. They have a lot of healthy vegan options and smoothies. In the summer crushed ice with watermelon juice is so refreshing.” (Editor’s note: the vegan date shake is a must!)

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BEST PLACE TO DRINK

“I have always been a huge fan of Melvyn’s Piano Bar. It’s still living in the old Palm Springs tucked away behind Palm Canyon. Also the Avalon Hotel a few doors down is very reliable and Mr. Lyons in the bar if you want some good snacks with your drinks.”

BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE WATCH

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“There are tons of natural desert hot spring spas. Two Bunch Palms is the most reputable, and it’s good for observing the locals interacting with the out-of-towners. The Parker Hotel (above) was just updated and has many observation areas, the bar and the pool being prime. [At the Ace Hotel], the Amigo Room offers good acoustic sets in the bar during the week and DUNES‘ own showgirl Shirley Claire, puts on quite a show calling out bingo on Monday nights at King’s Highway (below).”

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BEST HIDDEN TREASURE

“There are a few shops together tucked away on Perez Road, very Palm Springs-style home furnishings and books. For clothing, our favorite designer vintage shop The Fine Art of Design in Palm Desert. Nicholas and Luisa are extremely helpful and the selection there is incredible!”

BEST OUTDOOR ACTIVITY

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“We love a hike in the Indian Canyons (above). It is super beautiful this year with all the water. And, we always love to stop into Moorten Botanical Garden to say hello to Clark and his doves.” (Editor’s note: You’ve definitely seen the latter on Instagram.)

 

Now that DUNES has given you the tour, here are our personal favorite swaps for the Coachella experience.

BEST ALTERNATIVE CONCERT VENUE

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Ditch the massive crowds in Indio and head to Pioneer Town instead. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace (above) is a hidden host to some major bands with a more intimate setting. The indoor/outdoor bar has Western vibes in the best way and they’re also renowned for their chilli.

BEST ALTERNATIVE ART INSTALLATION

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From Modernism Week to the film festival, you are guaranteed to find something celebrating the arts in Palm Springs. The city and its supporters are truly dedicated to a thriving arts and culture scene. Desert X, an area-wide exhibition that first opened last year, is still open with a few installations and has announced the second edition to open February 2019. Get excited.

Photo by Lance Gerber

BEST ALTERNATIVE PARTY

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Head to the colorful doors of The Saguaro (pronounced Sa-wah-ro, and pictured above) on the weekend for amazing tacos and watermelon margaritas first. Then wander over for one of their much-loved pool parties. Who needs the Sahara Tent when you have DJs poolside?

This story has been updated and revised. 

Meet the Designer: Hackwith Design House

Designer Lisa Hackwith has been redefining the notion of minimalism since she started her namesake label in September 2013. Instead of seeing it as a streamlined aesthetic that favors simple silhouettes, a neutral palette and monochrome styling, she views minimalism as a kind of lifestyle where we mindfully select clothing that we will wear over and over again. Eschewing conventional approaches to retail and design, Lisa launched her brand by releasing a limited edition collection of two to four styles every Monday, with only 25 pieces per design. Her goal in this is to keep garment construction close to home, while maintaining a close eye on the quality of every piece. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her husband Dustin who works as the Brand Design Director for Hackwith Design House, and their adorable Rottweiler Samson. We’re huge fans (and, spoiler alert: have a special collab up our sleeve), so we couldn’t wait to sit down and talk shop.

Shop Hackwith Design House >

Meet the Designer: Shahla Karimi

We don’t use the hashtag #girlcrush lightly, but there’s really no better way to describe how we feel about this designer. Plus we share it with Lena Dunham, Gigi Hadid, Grimes and more. We’ve got a serious crush on New York-based jewelry designer Shahla Karimi. The kind, talented and business-savvy woman designs some seriously unique pieces. We sat down with her to talk business, 3D printing and quiz her on all her favorite things.

Shop Shahla Karimi >

HOW DID YOU END UP RUNNING YOUR OWN JEWELRY LINE AFTER WORKING IN THE MUSIC BIZ? I’ve worked on diverse aspects of production for a decade: from planning events as a personal assistant for the rapper Nas and singer Kelis to digital production at a record label (getting the Rolling Stones on iTunes), followed by merchandise product management and production for Warner Music Group and then President Obama’s 2012 election campaign. After the campaign I was hired by various agencies to do both digital and physical production, including a 60-piece apparel line for Vogue, where I got to work with 22 amazing designers like Victoria Beckham, Isabel Marant and Tory Burch.

The Vogue project marked my last big freelance gig. I had done every part of running a business, just never all at the same time and for my own brand. I learned how to turn No’s into Yes’s being a personal assistant. I became tech and e-commerce savvy working for record labels (transitioning into the digital world at the time) and digital agencies. And I built up my skills and network for production and marketing on the campaign and Vogue projects. There have been a lot of bumps in the road, but all of my past careers seemed to piece together like a jigsaw puzzle when I started my own company.

The Studio Series: Chen Williams

The oversized silhouettes of Ilana Kohn’s coveralls allow for them to be totally unisex which was a welcome discovery for Chen Chen and Kai Williams, the design duo at Chen Williams. “We have normal overalls which tend to be a little too technical and also much tighter fitting in the torso which don’t make them as easy to get in and out of,” Chen explains. “We love the simplicity of these coveralls and the loose fit.” Comfy workwear is important to the duo, especially considering their studio develops so many varied pieces: furniture, jewelry, coasters, bookends, home accessories, materials and more. The Pratt Institute graduates founded their creative studio in Brooklyn in 2011 and their experimental and playful combination of everyday and unusual materials has since been featured in design museums and festivals all over the world.

Chen takes the Lola Utility Coverall for a spin in their studio while we get to know him and his partner Kai.

 

Fall Inspo with Collina Strada Designer Hillary Taymour

As we not so patiently await the arrival of the Fall/Winter 2015 collections, we asked a few of our favorite designer friends to share their mood boards for the season. First, we talked to the rad Hillary Taymour of New York-based Collina Strada:

“Since obsessing over minimal Japanese architecture this season, I only want to see clean lines. My focus was to create a warmer, more luxe approach to my aesthetic. I’m known to design clothes that are easy to wear, urban, and multifunctional for the effortless downtown girl. My girl is maturing and I really wanted the pieces to reflect that. With this collection, I cut my prints in half to create a more minimal and architectural concept with the story, yet still keeping it very now.”

Meet the Designer: Nina Berenato of Psyche

Compiling adjectives to describe the rad jewelry by Psyche is a lot like brainstorming words to describe the Brooklyn line’s own famous fans. Lena Dunham: iconic, fearless, inspiring, outspoken. FKA Twigs: independent, bold, mesmerizing, alluring. Needless to say, there’s nothing quite like an arm party made by Psyche’s designer Nina Berenato. We had to find out more so we asked and she answered.

Behind the scenes with lululemon lab

As a retail space and production studio in one, lululemon lab’s unique space is just as busy as the major city center just outside its doors in Vancouver, BC. Started as a design incubator for the global brand lululemon athletica, the lab operates outside the lines with their own collection that is designed, produced and sold exclusively in their West Broadway location. For anyone looking for something beyond the yoga pant for your next workout, it’s a mecca of fashion forward silhouettes and fabrics. Community is a huge reason why the lab exists, so local collaborations have been the name of the game ever since they began in 2009. Osei-Duro is their latest international hookup and we’re so excited to be the exclusive online retailer for the capsule collection starting this Friday, July 17th. Stay tuned!

We met up with the team at lululemon lab to learn more about their process (keep scrolling below for a look behind the scenes) and talked with Women’s Wear Designer Erika Rekis about how this new collaboration began.

HOW DID LULULEMON LAB COME TO BE? WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION TO CREATE AN INCUBATOR FOR INNOVATION IN DESIGN FOR LULULEMON? The lab was born out of a desire to create a space for emerging designers to play and experiment in a way that big companies often miss out on. The combination of retail and design is modeled after the first ever lululemon store on west 4th and allows our design team to work right alongside our production team as well as chat with the guests to get direct feedback on existing designs as well as what we’re missing.

Couple Crush: Thunderwing Studio

When Garance Doré taps you to create her own personal stationary suite, it’s tantamount to winning a badge of honor from the fashion industry. Based in upstate New York, Thunderwing Studio is run by creative duo Nic Taylor and Jennifer Brandt-Taylor. The couple’s multi-disciplinary design studio teams up with clients in the fashion (boutique superstar TENOVERSIX is another client), lifestyle, publishing and hospitality industries. Plus, they’ve started their own collection of prints that sell in boutiques all over North America like Charlie & Lee. Nic is an award-winning designer and tenured professor at the School of Visual Arts. Jennifer is an author, a previous Waner Bros. consultant and runs a website dedicated to celebrating the printed word. Here they share the behind the scenes scoop, design tips and their secret to running a business side by side.

YOU HAVE WORKED WITH SOME AMAZING CLIENTS. HOW DO YOU APPROACH A PROJECT? N: Every project is different — with different clients, different audiences, different objectives — and we welcome that. Variety and appreciation of flux is what inspires us. We work with equal parts process and intuition. Jennifer likes to say that we are design psychics. I have a more strategic approach, and somehow, that synthesis makes the work incredibly gratifying.

WHERE DO YOU SEEK INSPIRATION? N: Traveling. Music. The unbroken braid of human creativity.

ANY DREAM PROJECTS?

N: Always partners / collaborators with true vision and honesty. As for format: Hotels. Restaurants. Album design. Sacred spaces.

J: Movie titles. Interiors.

How to pick art for your home like a boutique hotel

As a full-service art consulting firm, Vancouver’s Farmboy Fine Arts is a team behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest hospitality chains and coolest boutique hotels. Their role? To curate art collections and dress up the decor with some incredible graphic work and design. Every time we travel we wonder how we can bring a little of that boutique hotel feel home, so we quizzed Design Director Craig David Long to give us a behind the scenes look at the hotel art world and how we can expand our horizons beyond Ikea Klimts and MoMA posters.

ARE THERE ANY MOVEMENTS OR TRENDS IN THE ART WORLD RIGHT NOW? It is very hard to pinpoint thematic or aesthetic trends that span the art world at large, because art is such a vast and expansive thing. Art can be decorative or conceptual, contemporary or historic, and there is great variety within between artistic practices, such as style, medium, or what an individual artist’s thematic interests are. There are also many regional differences between art communities, based on social and cultural factors, the local market’s appetite for art, and the maturity of that artistic community.

Within hospitality, however, that is definitely where trends start to emerge. For hotels in the three- and four-star range, we are beginning to see some departure from traditional hung artwork, like framed art and canvases, though those will always be present. We are seeing art take on more architectural applications, such as printing imagery on substrates like metal, glass, mirror and textiles; the trend toward large graphic wall murals; as well as incorporating three dimensional and modular wall art in the guest rooms and public areas.

At the higher end, we have definitely seen hotels really begin to understand and appreciate the cultural, social and investment value of collecting fine and contemporary art as a long-term strategy. Our company has been a long believer that collecting fine art originals not only enhances the guest experience, but it can also foster dialogue with the local community and even yield financial return over time as well.