May 9, 2017

Like any resort destination, Palm Springs, California is deeply mired in its own legend. That’s where fresh eyes come in. Enter designer Liubasha Rose, principal of Miami-based Rose Ink Workshop, who had never visited the city before taking on the renovation of the public spaces of the Riviera, one of the area’s storied hotels. She discovered a “great design city where each hotel has a specific design story,” she says.

A previous renovation at the 399-room property—a 1959 celebrity haven that was a favorite of the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor and known for its spoke-shaped footprint by architect Irwin Schuman (the first to be built that way)—had “stacked all the chips on that history,” she adds. The quintessential midcentury color—orange, which also happened to be Sinatra’s favorite hue—and portraits of the Rat Pack made the property “feel Vegas-y. It didn’t speak to or reflect [Palm Springs],” she says.

The goal for the refresh wasn’t to “disconnect from the star-studded past,” she explains, “but rather to tie into the city and use that retro vibe in a more unexpected and eclectic way.” To do that, she took inspiration from Slim Aarons photos and focused on the hotel’s arrival sequence, which involves passing through an arcade that links the reception area and lobby landing lounge—now zipped up with coral, mint, and turquoise hues, palm print pillows, tweed seating, graphic carpet, and latticework screens—to the guestrooms.

The result is at once retro and playful. The passage features multiple nooks on either side that function as “little living rooms,” says Rose, each with its own sensuous design and found art (much of it irreverent), vintage pieces, saturated color, various textures, and curves, all connected by a green runway-like carpet. “The architecture was there, but it was just a series of repetitions. They all offer vignettes of Palm Springs through various lenses.” One features a pool table set under a row of geometric-shaped light fixtures and backed by a vignette of whimsical swimming-themed art; another with a green wallcovering, pink velvet slipper chairs and Missoni-style barrel seats, and a gold lotus flower chandelier feels like the closet of a glamorous “1960s socialite burst onto every surface in perfect symphony of color, pattern, and jewelry,” Rose says; and a third shimmers in natural light, thanks to a skylight, lucite coffee table, and an airy palette.

To complete the renovation, Rose Ink tackled the hotel’s three dining spots: Gypsy Rose, a cocktail bar where salmon-hued velvet club chairs and a royal blue banquette that divides the indoor and outdoor spaces are set on a striking black and white hex tile floor (a nod to surrealist David Lynch); Café Palmetto, a coffee shop boasting a frond-patterned feature wall and cane seating; and Cantala, a fine dining experience of earthy brown and forest green hues that picks up its color palette from two millwork cubby shelves that hold dozens of potted succulents. “It’s one of my favorite areas in the hotel,” Rose says of the restaurant. “I love how the tops of the banquettes are in shades of green ombré.”

Although the brief was to leave the Hollywood Regency-style guestrooms alone, Rose says she tried to complement them with her extensive use of pattern and green, the color of choice for room corridors. “Visually, it feels as if everything is brought together,” she says.