archival pigment print on lustre paper
90 x 134 cm
edition 10 + 2 AP
Framing: handmade, stained Tasmanian oak with raw Blackwood corner spine detail and non-reflective glass
Excerpt from Architectural Digest ‘Designers Own Homes’ (31/08/09)
The Southern California desert has a sensuality all its own—hot, dry air, strong winds, flash floods, chaparral, fan palms, skies clarified to a molten blue. A house in Palm Springs designed by the San Francisco-based architect Jim Jennings, for himself and his partner, writer Therese Bissell, draws on the vernacular of this landscape in elemental ways. On a plot of virgin land near the San Jacinto Mountains, Jennings built a wall and created a world inside—at once a refuge from the desert and an homage to its spaces and extraordinary light.
He and Bissell bought the land in 1999. “Once we had the property, I couldn’t resist designing a house,” reports Jennings. He had not built a residence for himself from the ground up before. Still, he took his time: “When you’re your own client, you can be as demanding as you like. And you know how difficult everything will be, especially when it appears simple.” The house was completed a decade later, and the couple started spending time at their desert retreat in January 2009.
An eight-foot wall of painted concrete block defines the Jennings house, enclosing 3,000 square feet of space. A flat roof seems to float above the building, just as the entire structure seems to float in the landscape. There is no driveway. You approach across white desert sand, past creosote bush, up to the carport in the north side of the white wall. On a sunny day (Palm Springs normally has more than 350 sunny days a year), light filtering through the carport’s painted-steel trellis roof draws vertical stripes on the horizontal blocks. Then you step from the carport through a clear-anodized-aluminum pivot door into the entrance courtyard and pure astonishment.