This is where we try to document the impact of this architecture on the wider culture- just the highlights – travel, architecture, and fashion. There is a lot more out there, and longer articles on Robert’s studio website. Please ask if you want a complete press list.
2013 AIA Top Honor Award- Acido Dorado and Rosa Muerta
Video shot by Nathalie Canguilhem and Anthony Vaccarello with Travis Scott, Vittoria Ceretti, Steffy Argelich
Here is the text –
ALL THAT GLITTERS- Robert Stone conjures a golden mirage in the high-desert landscape of Joshua Tree
by Mayer Rus
Forget midcentury modern. Forget deconstructivism, expressionism and all the other convenient “isms” that have traditionally been applied to the discussion of architecture. Robert Stone is far more interested in the stories buildings tell, the personal and cultural iconography they manifest and, yes, even the feelings they evoke. “I’m proposing something a little more demanding than a new aesthetic. I’m not saying, ‘This shape is cool’ or ‘Stacked boxes are in, and slanty walls are out.’ I’m asking people to think about how architecture works and what makes it meaningful,” says the LA-based Stone.
Acido Dorado is a trippy place. With its gold-mirrored ceiling and walls, heart-shape concrete-block cutout and gilded cage of twisted metal rods strung with wrought-iron flowers, the house seems an alien-albeit strangely congruous-presence in the parched high-desert panorama of Joshua Tree. Think Guns N’ Roses and Lost in Space…or 2001: A Cocaine Odyssey…or Zeus visiting desert Danae in a shower of gold. Think golden showers.
In fact, think whatever comes to mind. Stone eschews fixed meanings and revels in multiple interpretations and gut reactions. “Architecture should support what people bring to it,” he insists. “My work asks viewers to look inward. I’m telling people that they already get it-they just need to be open to it.” Acido Dorado-“golden acid” in Spanish-is Stone’s second rental house in the Coachella Valley, a short distance from Rosa Muerta, his black-shrouded groovy-Gucci-goth fantasy. The architect gave these seriously alluring follies Spanish names both as an earnest nod to the pervasive Latino culture of Southern California and a tongue-in-cheek riff on the common practice among developers of using foreign names to ennoble their often shabby properties with a gloss of romance and mystery.
When pressed to describe the physical form of Acido Dorado and the materials he employed, Stone instead weaves a tapestry of personal inspirations: military hardware, burned-out houses, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, preppy, BMX, Versace fall 2009, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ed Ruscha, Hedi Slimane, lowriders, sandstorms, macrame, drugs, roadside death shrines, classic desert modernism, evil corporate modernism, Robert Smithson’s Mirror Displacements, Robert Morris’ brutal minimalism and empty pools.
“Everyone has their own obsessions. I admit mine and try to incorporate them into my architecture rather than dressing them up in abstract language,” Stone says.
While many architects disparage fashion as a frivolous discipline lacking the gravitas of the heroic builder, Stone celebrates couture without apology. “I think that capturing a moment in time and transforming it into something profound is the hardest thing to do. Fashion designers talk about their work as a personal response to the world around them. Down the road, we see some of the things they create as era-defining,” he avers. “Architecture is a person’s life-a lens that opens up new possibilities. And yet architects aren’t trained to trust their gut.”
If Stone sounds skeptical about traditional architectural education and discourse, it’s because he is. Rather than taking the established path of internship and enslavement in a professional office, followed by the opening of an independent practice and the requisite hat-in-hand courting of clients to build a portfolio, he decided simply to go to the desert and make architecture-with his own two hands. “I appreciate the directness of building by hand,” he says, “whether it be digging ditches or fashioning metal roses. The DIY thing raises the stakes. If I’m going to take three years and put in my own money, then I have to ask myself, What is it going to be?’
This, of course, begs the question, Exactly what is it? Manifesto? Pleasure dome? Provocation? Stone believes it’s all of these things, plus whatever anybody else decides to bring to the glossy, mirror-topped table.
The 25 most beautiful houses in the world!
Mert & Marcus shot Mariacarla Boscono, Heidi Klum, and Angela Lindval at Acido Dorado for Roberto Cavalli.
Melina Matsoukas project at Rosa Muerta with Beyonce and Jay Z
Acido Dorado pool photo by Jimmy Cohrssen in a two page spread of this folio size book
A Machine for Dreaming In by Greg Goldin
The environs of Palm Springs, California, can cause architects to abandon structural rigor in favor of insouciant fantasy- picture the buxom assassins Bambi and Thumper pouncing on James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, under a daisy-wheel John Lautner dome. Now drive half an hour north to the wind-whipped high desert of Joshua Tree, and the fantasy becomes an acid trip. Imagine a golden house, both sharply angular and wildly ornamented, and what you’ve got is Acido Dorado. Built by Robert Stone, a desert native, it’s swankily modern yet suggestively operatic, with 900 gold-painted iron roses, 1,200 mirrored tiles, and a concrete screen with a heart-shape cutout. Mad Men, meet the Ring des Nibelungen.
“Architects see composition and space. Designers see surfaces and textures. I see all of that and more, like cultural connections such as roadside death shrines made out of flowers and Mercedes-Benz parts,” Stone adds. And business opportunities. Acido Dorado is Robert Stone Design’s second Joshua Tree house for Stone’s own vacation-rentaI initiative, Pretty Vacant Properties. Each house begins with its name. Rosa Muerta, his first one, is a dark homage to punks partying in burned-out houses in the 1980’s. At Acido Dorado, those two words are neatly stenciled in white block letters on one of the sloped concrete-block walls that serves as a bulwark against the Mojave Desert’s sandstorms and searing sunlight. Besides being an unabashed reference to an acid trip, a desert rite of passage, Acido Dorado is a send-up of the names chosen to lend cheesy real-estate developments a romantic grandeur. There’s also the literaI meaning of dorado. Inside and out, the house is awash in three shades of gold automotive paint. The sensibility is lowrider.
A single story with a rocky hill rising behind, the structure is surrounded by elaborate steel grilles interrupted by a concrete-block screen. Most of the actual exterior is composed of sliding doors in the gold-coated glass found on anonymous office buildings. Opening these doors creates a pavilion under a flat canopy. It’s held aloft on nine pencil-thin poles of polished stainless steel partially wrapped in gold-glitter vinyl, the kind that BMX riders use on their handlebars. Though the reference is almost comically sexual, ifs undermined by the way the shiny steel disappears into the sandy earth.
Alternate interpretations and optical illusions abound. At first, the gold color overwhelms. After the eyes adjust, it becomes just another shade of the surrounding desert. Much depends on the sliding grilles and doors as well. When they’re closed, the house becomes a solid glittering object.
When they’re open, the line between indoors and out doesn’t just blur. It inverts. Since the floor is sunken nearly 4 feet below grade, and 12-inch mirrored squares cover a large portion of the ceiling and the huge overhangs, the desert becomes a bodily presence hovering above.
The flowers on the grilles have a split personality, too. Obviously, they are phony-metallic gold roses appear in dreams, not nature. But welding wedding-cake decorations onto a strict grid, as Stone did with his own torch, “somehow, irrationally, conveys life,” he says. “In the same way that fashion is not afraid of exploring high and low, neither am I. Something that looks tacky today can look Gucci tomorrow if done right. And after that, who knows? Maybe it will look tacky again.” Of the 10 butterflies welded onto the grilles, amid the roses, one is situated perfectly on the building’s center axis. Stone is wrestling with the ghost of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Modernism exemplified, the floor plan is a 1,400-square-foot rectangle divided into two squares: an all-in-one living area, dining area, and kitchen and a pair of bedrooms. The latter two rooms, in turn, are twin rectangles sparsely decorated with platform beds and mirrored built-ins. Of course, to butterfly is to split something symmetrically in two. The literaI and the figurative converge.
The online post includes Sex Pistols and Tarantino clips that I think really enhance the read, see it here- http://www.abitare.it/highlights/robert-stone-design/
Here is the text by Fabrizio Gallanti-
At first sight deserts look empty, pure and intact. But the freedom they enjoy from the stricter controls imposed on cities and “colonized” places really means that they are areas where the remnants of our civilization accumulate, the weirdest of social and cultural experiments are carried out, and widely differing images and imagery clash and interbreed in the glaring sunlight.
America’s deserts in particular are ones where this untidy otherness is most evident – the most extreme military experiments, introverted communities of obsessive fanatics. These deserts are places that many people escape to and then isolate themselves in. They are also places where relics of modernity accumulate, lime-encrusted surfaces where the weirdest mirages settle over time.
Not long ago Enzo Mari, Giovanna Silva and Gianluigi Recuperati travelled through California, Nevada and Arizona searching for relics of modernity dumped among the rocks, sand and dust. In “Scenes in America Deserta”, Reyner Banham’s vision was more naturalistic and sublime, though punctuated by encounters with human architecture and activity (Frank Lloyd Wright, Paolo Soleri). The desert’s visual richness and infinitude has appealed most of all to filmmakers – the Coen brothers, Wim Wenders, Michelangelo Antonioni, David Lynch and others, not to mention hundreds of westerns. Though technically in Mexico, the “Titty Twister” strip club in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s “From Dusk till Dawn” typifies the hallucinatory character of the American desert.
This is why Robert Stone’s designs epitomize the kind of aesthetic fusion made possible precisely because there are no traditional and contextual constraints. Stone is building a set of week-end houses called Pretty Vacant Properties a short distance from the Joshua Tree national park in California. Commercially speaking, the development is similar to the house in Vals: you rent an “extreme” landscape along with visually unusual house fitted with all mod cons (in Vals the landscape is more normal and the house more original; in the desert it’s the other way round). To date Stone has completed two houses: “Rosa Muerta”, a dark-punk apparition under a scorching sun, and “Acido Dorado”, a golden dream perhaps inspired by the LSD that folks quaffed by the gallon in the psychedelic years. The story so far seems to be born out by Stone’s brief account of why this precise spot was chosen.
“Joshua Tree also has a storied history as a rock and roll retreat and spiritual tabula rasa. If you are tuned in you will also see glimpses of a d.i.y. cultural utopia that is a hotbed of electronic folk music, rock and roll rebirth, new age naivete, military-industrial complexities, burnouts, high art, low art, and everything in-between. Whatever you find out here, whether it is amazingly good or so wrong it’s right . . . it was at least somebody’s godhead at some point in time.”
“Rosa Muerta” has been widely reviewed (most recently in ArchDaily). “Acido Dorado” has been used for fashion shoots but also deserves to be assessed as architecture.
The house blends the layout of Californian 1950-60s modernist houses with sensitive use of rough-and-ready DIY-type materials – the concrete blocks in the yard are similar to those used for all low-cost building in California and Mexico. The house is designed to be thrown wide open – sliding walls eliminate all distinctions between inside and outside – and a number of small indoor atriums planted with ocotillos further accentuate the “geographical” ethos. Decoratively speaking, the use of colour and floral wrought-ironwork evokes Mexican imagery, tattoos and rock culture. There is also a heart set in the façade (how many architects would have the courage to do that?). The slick interiors and furnishings draw on the ideals of modernist comfort and withdrawal from the world sometimes associated with sophisticated bachelordom. All in all it’s an intriguing house, part abandoned bunker and part Palm Springs villa. “Pretty Vacant” is also the title of a Sex Pistols song.