Trina Turk, Palm Springs, is the fashion designer's first shop and interior designer Kelly Wearstler's debut retail project
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 6/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
A tad retro, yet of-the-moment with vibrant colors and casual attitude, Los Angeles–based Trina Turk's youthful fashions make us wish we all could be California girls. Likewise, Palm Springs, with its seminal architecture on a rapid road to rediscovery, makes us yearn for a long weekend of Rat Pack cool. Leave it to L.A. interior designer Kelly Wearstler, of KWID, to decipher these messages and translate them into three-dimensional reality for Turk's first shop.
What could be a more fitting Palm Springs site than a 1950s building designed by renowned modernist architect Albert Frey? To be accurate, the location actually consisted of two former spaces within an upscale Frey retail complex. Wearstler joined the two to form a 2,500-square-foot quasisquare interior. Up front is a sales area with symmetrical display bays. At the rear, former storerooms were transformed into an inviting lounge flanked by dressing rooms. The word lounge holds the key to Wearstler's theme. "It's a vintage resort vibe, both old and new Palm Springs," she says. Turk sums up the vision with a single adjective: swank.
The fashion designer commissioned the interior designer on the strength of her Beverly Hills project Maison 140, which offers refreshing relief from the über- hip boutique hotel. "Maison 140 is a mix of vintage and modern, and that's what my clothing is," says Turk, whose label is found in such big-ticket stores as Saks Fifth Avenue, Fred Segal, and Henri Bendel. "Both have a little bit of whimsy." Surprisingly, the client had no concrete ideas for her image-enhancing endeavor. Early exchanges centered on inspirational photographs torn from magazines. Turk, Wearstler reports, made no mention of other retail projects: "She just let us go."
Wearstler built the interior as a neutral backdrop to showcase the colorful and geometric clothes. "The trick was not to take away from them," she explains. That, however, is where similarity to other non-upstaging retail projects ends. Wearstler's is a sparkling and richly textured envelope. Each surface in the front area is a unique material, almost all with reflective qualities. Once again, her prowess as a master of the mix shines. So does her familiarity with sources, invariably providing just the right period element for authenticity. Shopping skills, no matter the venue, ultimately pay off.
The front zone dazzles with a combination of mirrored planes and reflected sunlight. Wearstler faced the merchandise niches with beveled mirror rectangles measuring 3 by 6 inches. "I bought them at Home Depot and laid them like tile," the designer comments. From the ceiling, dropped over the central area to 10 feet 6 inches and surfaced with 1970s Mylar wall covering, hang opaque white globes jazzed up with acrylic-and-brass finials. As if this weren't enough to evoke Rat Pack heyday images, Wearstler made a beaded-glass curtain from chandelier parts, purchased in 24-inch-long pieces and strung together during installation. The curtain forms a backdrop to the cash-wrap desk, whose 12-foot length of polished laminate and gold-tinted, mirrored acrylic continues the retro-reflective theme. Two overscale wicker chairs, dating back three decades, refer to the resort locale while introducing yet another texture.
Behind the cash-wrap desk and the glass beads, white cotton draperies—with restored mannequins from the 1970s standing in for tiebacks—signal a change from sales to lounge zone. So does a color shift to brilliant yellow. Here, vintage rattan seating and a brass-and-chrome table from KWID's nascent furniture collection stand outside dressing-room doors with custom acrylic pulls. Except for the dressing rooms' and cash-wrap area's shag carpet (what else?), the project is anchored by pebble-textured ceramic tile flooring in 12-inch squares.
Completed in six months for $100,000, the shop may be Turk's first, but it's not necessarily prototypical. She speaks of context and has sights set on L.A. The ideal? To convert a gas station, built-in parking provided.
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