Rosa Muerta and the Off-grid itHouse
Happy New Year! We just returned from a cabin scouting trip to Switzerland. But before writing about that we’d like to tell you about our Southern California trip a few months ago. This trip started with wanting to see PJ Harvey’s LA concert - she was only playing New York and LA. And then we thought…LA, yeah…it’s just a short 2-hr drive to the desert from LA. We could stay at two vacation rentals we have always wanted to see: Taalman Architecture’s Off-grid itHouse (currently listed on PlansMatter) and Robert Stone’s Rosa Muerta (available through Pretty Vacant Properties or Airbnb).
Before getting to the vacation rentals, we have to emphasize that there’s so much to see and do in the deserts outside of LA: Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs (including the 1965 Tramway Gas Station by Albert Frey), Two Bunch Palms, Integratron, Salvation Mountain and the abandoned Salton Sea. You could easily spend two weeks here. Need more inspiration? Check out our Pinterest boards we use while planning our trips.
Now on to the vacation houses.
First, Rosa Muerta. It’s definitely true that this property isn’t for everyone. It can border on the uncomfortable (no soft seating or heating/cooling systems, bedroom partially open to the sky) and bizarre (a junk yard is visible from a nearby hill), but if you love architecture and art and want a truly unique desert experience, Rosa Muerta is a place you must experience. Hands down, it’s one of the coolest, sexiest places we have ever stayed. (Check #rosamuerta or it’s gold sister property #acidodorado on Instagram, or watch this Saint Laurent SS17 video featuring Acido Dorado to see what we mean). There are mirrors on the ceilings, black concrete block hearts, a plunge pool, and metal butterflies and roses - wow!
Rosa Muerta felt like a cross between Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion and a burned-out punk rock house in the barrio. It is a fascinating mix of cultural references done DIY style. We could imagine Blade Runner or Mad Max being filmed here. You can’t take a bad picture of the place.
Next, we stayed at the Off-grid itHouse, which was less than a 30-minute drive from Rosa Muerta. The site was more remote and the architecture was far more luxurious (but admittedly less challenging). There were beautiful felt curtains, high-end fixtures, a king bed with soft white sheets, moooi Cork Stools by Jasper Morrison (one of our favorite designers), plenty of soft seating, and a bulthaup kitchen. Anyone would love it here.
When we arrived it was 102 degrees, but we simply opened the numerous large sliding glass doors and the space immediately cooled down. No need for AC in the desert? Incredible. We loved the lightweight extruded aluminum structure and ingenious way storage and utility rooms were tucked away.
What did we like most? The view. With no neighbors within sight, there was a calming sense of seclusion. The area (Pioneertown) was once used to film Western movies, and we could definitely see why - especially with the full moon. It was surreal to sit outside at night having a glass of wine in desert moonlight so bright it cast shadows.
And - yes! - we actually did get to see PJ Harvey. We even ran into a friend from Minneapolis who works for Blu Dot! Nice seeing you Medora. Small world.