One of the perks of being in the design business is the opportunity it affords to travel and to see other's work for both inspiration and sanctuary. Both of these terms truly applied to my recent visit to the Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs, California.
If you read this blog, then you know that I am a huge fan and student of architectural design. So, for me, this visit was a dream come true since John Lautner ranks high on my list of visionary architects. The hotel was designed and built in 1947 as part of a master planned community which never materialized. It sits low to the surrounding desert in a welcoming palette of grey concrete, orange-painted steel beams, and natural wood. The striking roofline and layout frame the 4 separate rooms, several patios, hot tub, and firepit.
The experience is one of true indoor/outdoor living with healthy doses of sweeping glass to blur the lines between your guest room, your patio, and vistas of the desert around and sky above. The rooms are decked out in mid-century modern style with period art and sculptures as well as a phonograph (translation: record player) and a tasty selection of vinyl to provide the soundtrack for the evening.
Like so many modern gems, the hotel fell into disrepair for nearly 20 years, falling out of the memory of a generation. That is until Tracy Beckmann and Ryan Trowbridge lovingly and painstaking restored the structure over 3 1/2 years to remind us all why good modernism always looks fresh - no matter how "old" it actually is.
The desert really is a special place. It is so vast, so silent and still that it can transport hearts and minds like few places can. Lautner's design encourages this as it provides comfort and beauty in striking visual appeal to invite you to take in all that surrounds you.
Modernism is best when it is both a work of art and also a lens enhancing the world around it. The Hotel Lautner does just this and makes a beautiful location even that much better.