My first time in Palm Springs was pretty surreal. It’s taken me a few days of being home and readjusting to really grasp the magnitude of it all. Last Thursday, I flew into San Francisco and met up with my friend Star, who would be joining me on a little adventure known as Design Life.
A design retreat organized by Promise Tangeman and Alyssa Yuhas, Design Life was meant to bring a group of female graphic designers (many of which are also bloggers) together to network, learn from one another and chat about our processes openly. Needless to say, I learned a ton (there were so many lightbulb moments…these girls had some brilliant insights) and wow. I can’t wait for next year.
I’ve never had the opportunity to come face-to-face with so many of my design peers all at once and truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Star and I arrived at The Ace Palm Springs on Thursday and though we have an Ace here in Portland, the atmosphere at this location was very, very different.
A revamped 60s / 70s motel, this Ace had a highly entertaining hipster camping vibe — the narrow corridors, curtains made of tarps, southwestern-style woven rugs, denim headboards, folding chairs and card table (if you’re the gambling type, cards are available in the vending machine!) and blazing orange doors made us feel slightly like we were on the run from the law, hiding out in a retro desert oasis. I loved it! Even better, the Ace staff had left our radio on, tuned to disco funk. Perfect! We spent the next three days dancing off to the BeeGees, Barry White and Michael Jackson (which often made us late to group breakfasts and dinners).
The Ace: The Highlights
• The Vintage Metal Sign. It was the perfect photo-op and oozed major charm. I think we all posed in front of it at least once.
• The Typography. This was a design retreat, after all. The extra special touches throughout the Ace didn’t go unnoticed. Dense hand-styled type covered signs, room cards and more.
• The Photo Booth. Any photo booth that accepts debit cards is a serious threat to my well-being (and checking account). I got a wee bit carried away and swiped my card an upwards of 15 times during our stay. Snaps before breakfast? Snaps before the pool? Snaps at 2 a.m. after a few drinks? Every moment seemed worthy of commemorating.
• The Swim Club. The pool area is totally off the hook. Sadly, I barely squeezed in pool time (which sucked considering it was pushing 100 degrees every day). Between heading to town to check out sights, our daily scheduled chats and nightly dinners, I got in 15 minutes here, a half hour there. On Sunday, Emma gathered us all poolside for Instax snaps which turned out rad.
• The Food and Drinks. I LOVED The King’s Highway, which is actually a renovated Denny’s! They also served my hometown favorite, Stumptown Coffee.
• The Snack Selection. It’s definitely high on entertainment value. I was kind of amazed: tons of booze, jerky, caramel corn, fruit stripe gum, coconut water…you get the idea. Quite eclectic!
• The Toiletries. They don’t skimp here: all your basics are jumbo-sized.
Around The Ace
I loved the rock walls and random knick-knacks strewn about The Ace. It was nice to be in a hotel that didn’t feel too polished. Around every corner was a photo-op waiting to happen.
Isn’t the waiting area of The King’s Highway cute? Star strikes a pose.
Never. Enough. That poor, poor photo booth!
If you’ve never been to Palm Springs, it’s a full-on desert climate similar to Phoenix — each of the four days I was there, the temperature was near 100 degrees. Most of the time, I wore loose, sleeveless dresses during the day and packed along a light sweater for the night. The heat makes it nearly unbearable to walk long distances so make sure you have plenty of cab fare tucked away.
I snapped this photo of our little group between sessions. You see that dude in the back row in the suit? He was getting married that day. I’m the only one not pictured because someone had to take the photo!
As designers, we all have our own styles and our own processes when it comes to working with clients. And we all have something to share. The talks were super enlightening and I learned so much from just being in the same room as my peers. Beyond that, I made a lot of new friends. I’d been following some of these girls for months and in a few cases, YEARS so coming face-to-face with them in a lot of cases was pretty surreal. Sitting next to them at dinner: surreal. Cramming into the photo booth with them: surreal. But in the best possible way.
Beyond The Ace
We didn’t have a ton of free time to explore Palm Springs but two additional highlights of the trip were visiting The Saguaro and The Parker (I went a little camera crazy at The Parker and have a full recap coming Monday). These two hotels have completely opposite vibes — while the Saguaro is a sleek, rainbow-infused masterpiece, The Parker is like a mid-century modern dreamscape on steroids. Patterned furniture, colored vases, art featuring drug references and beautiful women, oversized meals you could only dream of, perfectly manicured gardens complete with massive palms and hammocks…it all sounds too good to be true! If you’re new to Palm Springs, make The Parker your number one stop.
This photo was taken with Bri, Emma, Star, Chelsea and Kate right before we all parted ways. I loved the whole Design Life group. Such smart, amazing, inspiring women. Thanks to everyone for being so welcoming and teaching me so much in such a short amount of time. I’m humbled. Design Life 2013 can’t get here soon enough.
The Design Life 2012 Attendees
• Alyssa Yuhas
• Amanda Genther
• Breanna Rose
• Bri Emery
• Cassie Pyle
• Chelsea Fullerton
• Emma Robertson
• Erin Jane
• Eva Black
• Joanna Waterfall
• Kate Arends
• Kathleen Shannon
• Kelli Murray
• Lindsay Stetson
• Liz Grant
• Megan Gilger
• Promise Tangeman
• Vanessa Gonzales