Joan Michaels. We worked on a project with clients of mine near Santa Monica, visited a client of Joan’s near San Diego, and attended a modern design show in Palm Springs. We stayed, at one time or another, at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, at a Richard Neutra house in Pacific Palisades, at the La Quinta Resort in La Quinta, and at a friend’s house in Coronado. We loved the Neutra house, from which you could see the ocean, and hear it at night; we disliked the scene at the Avalon; we relaxed at La Quinta; and enjoyed biking on Coronado.The trees are brown. The sky is gray. A reverie is a good thing on such a day. The past several winters, I spent time in Southern California with my partner in life and design,
La Quinta Inn. Photo by Laurel T., Yelp.com.
I had never been south of San Francisco, so this was all new to me. Joan grew up in Palm Springs, and had an aunt living in Pacific Palisades, so it was not new to her. She had not been back in years, however, nor had she managed to get to Big Sur, which she yearned to see. So, a few years ago, we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to Carmel, stopping for a few days at Big Sur.
The highlight of the trip for me was the drive itself: cliffs overlooking the ocean to the left, mountains to the right, and switchbacks every few miles. I had farfegnugen the entire time. Joan was, frankly, a bit nervous about the drive, and happier when we arrived at Big Sur, where we spent one day camping at Deetjen’s, and another day pampering ourselves at the Post Ranch Inn. We were so pleased with the inn, poised seemingly at the end of the world, that we didn’t make it to Nepenthe Restaurant, featured in the movie The Sandpiper, or to the Esalen Institute, where hippies still do what hippies do. We did, however, absorb the bohemian aura of the area—we were mesmerized by the same combination of rugged natural beauty and ruggedly beautiful architecture that has attracted artists and craftsmen for decades.
Luther Conover Table
A trip to California is not in the cards this year, so I have done the next best thing and brought the mountain to me in the form of a shipment of mid-century design. Nothing says California like a Natzler vase or a Sam Maloof chair. I have long appreciated the artisanal and quirky character of the type of design exhibited at The Pasadena Art Museum in the 1950’s through 70’s, and codified as California Design 1 through 11. My recent purchases include wooden sculptures by the San Diego artist Charles Luedtke, ceramic pieces by Wayne Chapman, Brent Bennett, and Steve Salisian, and a low table by the architect/designer Luther Conover. These join works by California designers such as Maurice Martine in my apartment. The trees may be brown, the skies may be gray, but as I look around me, I’ll stay warm on a winter’s day.
Wooden sculptures by the San Diego artist Charles Luedtke, and ceramic pieces by Wayne Chapman, Brent Bennett, and Steve Salisian.