When fashion designers go residential, their sense of color and texture don’t always feel quite at home. Especially when it comes to bedding, it can feel – well, a bit sleepy. Not so with never neutral Trina Turk, whose punchy patterns enter a room with the sock-it-to-me frivolity of Joanne Whirley – euphoric, mod, and unabashedly uncorked with personality.
In fact, the shag carpet appeal of the Laugh-In era has come alive in Palm Springs, the new Mid-Century mecca where Trina Turk Residential has opened right next door to her apparel boutique on Palm Canyon Drive. Turk and her husband, photographer Jonathan Skow, own a home in the desert. Along with retrophiles like Jonathan Adler, they are doing their part to restore the resort to its early 60s glamor of Avanti cars, Sinatra and Hope soirées, and low-slung homes.
Turk’s vivid peacock and floral prints fit in the scene like a worn-in golf glove. The best part is that she locates old pieces – mostly vintage patio furniture – that she restores and upholsters in her own florals and geometrics, infusing old goodies with contemporary spark. It’s oh so greener than throwing them out to pasture.
I spoke with the highly successful designer about her vision for home:
Luanne: Why residential?
Trina: We always did color and prints in our apparel line and it seemed like a logical progression. Most of the prints we do are graphic and bold so they lend themselves to larger expanses of fabric. Over the years, we used my prints in my old home and realized the apparel fabrications are not appropriate for upholstery use (laughs). What we wanted was to find someone who could do true indoor-outdoor fabrics that could withstand the sun, getting wet, kids and dogs. That’s how we paired up with F. Schumacher. We did nine patterns and eight of them are ones we have use in the past on apparel.
Luanne: The Schumacher fabrics are stunning but not organic. Have you thought about going in that direction?
Trina: As a brand, we have credibility in the arena of printed fabrics. Anything that can be done makes sense for us. I don’t see us every doing eco furniture and hard items, but with textiles, we could cross over.
Gallery of featured Trina Turk products
Luanne: I realize it can be challenging. Many of those toxic chemicals are what coat the fabric to make it last.
Trina: The textile industry is a very polluting industry, so at this point, it is really about making baby steps in the right direction. With our customers, the sad thing is if a jean is organic or non-organic, they will buy the one that makes them look better, the one most flattering to them. If the less flattering one is organic, their organic concerns are overruled by what they look good in. As the textile industry continues to develop fabrications that are eco-friendly and also fashionable – that whole thing will move forward and there won’t be a difference.
Luanne: How do you scout for the furniture in your collection?
Trina: All the furniture in our own home is vintage. We opened a residential store here figuring that in Palm Springs, it’s easy to find vintage patio furniture. Stylistically, it’s more interesting to me than new patio furniture. It’s easy to find vintage Brown Jordan but most of it has webbing, making it hard to upholster. We have located upholstered pieces not by famous designers, except for one set by Bob Alexander, who you might know if you are a decorator or collector. We get a lot of metal pieces and have them painted with a shiny enamel paint finish that is very durable and comes in great colors. It looks like new once the upholstery is on the cushions and should endure outdoors.
Luanne: The desert sun can be grueling. I remember when I was growing up and we owned a home in P.S. We’d store the cushions indoors.
Trina: That’s what got this whole thing going..this idea of we want fabric by the pool but the 100% cotton canvas in the apparel line really fades. The P.S. sun is so strong it fades in one day. The Schumacher fabrics go through a wear test equivalent to sitting up and down 15,000 times (we both laugh). They really test it out that way!
Luanne: They could have just had my kids come over. They’re hyper-active. Who is your decor clientele – who’s interested in procuring the vintage pieces you’re refurbishing?
Trina: Mostly, there are the people who live here who have bought and restored Mid-Century homes. Then, there are the architectural tourists who come to look at the homes. This time of year, there is a new crop every weekend because of all the local events. The Palm Springs Modernism Show just happened.
Luanne: Were you involved? Did it get around that you have the new home store?
Trina: Yes, we did a thing called the Trina Turk Guide to Palm Springs, an extended postcard listing all of the Mid-century shops.
Luanne: It seems you are branching out beyond Palm Springs, opening a new store in Burlingame, Calif. and other cities.
Trina: In Burlingame, we will sell mostly apparel but also carry some items from our home collection, pillows and home accessory items like scented candles. We see a lot of possibilities for things we can do in that area. The prints could be applied to wallpaper, rugs, many different things.
Photos: courtesy John Ellis