Trina Turk and Jonathan Skow TRADE:
Fashion designer and photographer, respectively. VIBE:
Bright, well-edited midcentury cool. ABODE:
Streamline Moderne-style three-bedroom 1936 home in the hills of Palm Springs, CA.
Only in your wildest Palm Springs fantasies does fashion designer Trina Turk breeze by in a printed kaftan while husband and photographer Jonathan Skow pours you a lime sour over views of the desert valley. "We're inspired by late '60s and early '70s cocktail culture," Turk chirps as she flits around their airy hillside home -- a 1936 structure as legendary in design circles as her eponymous lifestyle brand is to the modish mindset worldwide. Currently in its 20th year, the company's self-described "optimistic" design style stretches over dozens of bright and colorful categories, including women's ready-to-wear
, home décor
, and a newly expanded men's line, Mr. Turk
. Just two hours east of Los Angeles, the couple finds retreat in the swingin' hills of Palm Springs, having carefully restored a landmark home they now use for equal parts relaxation and inspiration.
Long before Coachella social feeds captured the hilly, ombré skylines of Palm Springs, fashion insiders like Turk and Skow were taking advantage of the desert valley's dusty landscape and midcentury architecture as a backdrop for look books and editorials in the late '90s. "There were a lot of fashion people sort of rediscovering Palm Springs," says Turk of the area's retro allure. Crediting friends like GQ
's Creative Director, Jim Moore
, and renowned minimalist interior designer, Brad Dunning
, as pioneering homebuyers to ignite the modernist mania we know today, Turk remembers the wild west of real estate as they set out to claim their own piece of the pie. "At that time," she recalls, "you could get a little Alexander house
Surprisingly, the couple fell in love with a home outside their midcentury comfort zone -- an unusual yacht-like three-bedroom majestically perched above The Mesa neighborhood. "When we bought it, it was sort of saggy," Turk recalls of the Streamline Moderne
home's fatigued structure. "It had been propped in different places. One person had used a two-by-four here and another person had used a metal pole there . . . it was kind of funky." The couple set out on some light surface restorations in hopes of returning the home to the glorious state for which it earned a 1937 cover story in Sunset Magazine
and was famously deemed "Ship of the Desert." But, when an ill-fated arson fire burned the home down to its foundation during the revival, they decided to enlist famed architecture firm Marmol Radziner
to guide them in a restoration from the ground up and waited almost three years before moving in in 2001.
Never ones to shy away from an irresistible deal on vintage (especially during the golden age of Palm Springs furniture shopping), Turk and Skow have developed a hobby of impulse-buying midcentury antiques, always confident they will one day serve a purpose. "If we find something great that may or may not be right for the house, sometimes we'll just hold onto it knowing it'll end up at the retail store or at a photo shoot," Turk explains of their storage unit -- one we imagine to be like a modernist version of Aladdin
's Cave of Wonders. Though the home boasts an impressive mix of furnishings, like a Byron Botker
for Landes three-legged modernist sling chair and a Judee Du Bourdieu
-designed macramé lion head, Turk endorses a well-edited life and offers this advice to other design magpies: "Be disciplined. Though my tendency is to collect, collect, collect, I don't necessarily want any room to be crowded or cluttered at all," she explains. "But the cupboards?" she gleams, "Oh, they are all full."
For more from the wonderful world of Trina Turk and Jonathan Skow, visit trinaturk.com
Photographs: Justin Coit