Palm Springs Life October 2006

By: admin  |  Date: October 1st, 2007  |  Category: Press  |  Comments: Say Something »

Design philosophy: When we create beauty in our interior environment, store delight arises. My interiors offer an alternative to the egocentric modern desert style that attempts to trump the natural landscape rather than pay homage to it.”

Best known for: Choosing pure geometric forms for their clarity and functionality. Icreate interiors that complement the modern architectural structure by gravitating toward light and warm backgrounds. I accent those with splashes of color in art and accessories.”

What his clients want: Comfort. “They tend to be attracted to the clean lines of contemporary architecture and furnishings, no rx but, capsule as they say, ‘It has to be comfortable.’ That’s never a problem with the contemporary furniture lines that I favor or the designs I create.”

What he loves for this season: “The same as what I love for any season: striving to make a positive and long-lasting impact on my client’s quality of life.” A favorite item is the new natural fiber rugs made of aloe, hemp, silk, or flax juxtaposed beneath flat-finished upholstery. “That to me is ecomodern.”

Clean and contemporary describes many of the interiors that bear the Mark Nichols name. In addition to creating crisp, sophisticated yet subtle designs, Nichols feels passionately about introducing another element whenever it’s appropriate: eco-friendly materials. While his clients are often interested in learning about and implementing high performance audio-visual systems, home automation, and wireless technology for their home computers, Nichols says, “The technological developments that have more of a personal interest to me are those that permit natural and manmade materials to be used in new and surprising ways. Why shouldn’t a sink be made out of paper?” That’s how Nichols thinks, and it’s a mindset his clients appreciate.

In the master bedroom shown here, Nichols used organic, natural elements to achieve a polished and inviting refuge. The chairs are made of a natural cotton fiber, the rug is silk and hemp. The floor lamp gleams in copper, and the floor is made of bamboo. “The elements I have employed in our eco-sensitive interiors all have their genesis in the lab,” Nichols says. “Formaldehyde-free bamboo, cold-pressed melamine, recycled bottle glass mosaic tile, and paper-based products are now more readily available in the marketplace, and we are delighted to use them. As the wide variety of beautiful eco-friendly wallcoverings and upholstery designed for use in commercial settings become more refined, I look forward to introducing them into residential settings as well.”

Until then, Nichols says he spends a lot of time and energy identifying and maintaining quality source relationships to get exactly what he and.his clients want most. “That means knowing what,is available not only locally but also in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco,” he says. And once he has what he wants, he’s not afraid to use it. For the Contempo Homes bathroom shown here, Nichols took the stance that because the outdoors is so hot, the inside should be cool. The blue mosaic tiles that envelop the walls, column, and deep soaking tub are meant to inspire respite with their calm, cool, water-themed hue.

As far as this notion being an actual “trend,” Nichols says he wouldn’t call it that. “Trends are for fun and for fashion and are, by their nature, fleeting. While trends may influence what types of products are more readily available, concept propels my interior design.”


In a land of dirt-brown desertscapes, one company commits to going green

Solar energy powers the lights and air conditioner, tiny tank-less water heaters store 200 to 500 gallons of instant hot water per hour, and a salt-water pool twinkles under the Palm Springs sun in the backyard. After a dip, the owner walks barefoot over an organic-fiber area rug, through hallways done up with low VOC paint (to preserve air quality), and into the bathroom, where his glass mosaic-tiled shower with a water-conserving rainhead offers a swathlike view of the Santa Rosas’ peaks. He may be living on the cutting edge of the lavish, eco-friendly homes movement, but he’s hardly the first on his block to enjoy the lifestyle. All of his neighbors live within by energy-efficient, insulated panel systems and photovoltaic solar panels for affordable heating and cooling. Royal Palm Estates is the first “ecomodem” community completed by Contempo Homes, a Palm Springs-based company that mingles midcentury-inspired architecture with the latest in conservationist home building technology.

“People are attracted to the design, the functional aspects, and the livability” says Contempo Homes Chairman Mike Hutchison. “This is the next logical step in modernism. We have technology today that allows us to do things that weren’t possible back then.”

The butterfly and folded-plate roof lines and open floor plans popular in the Alexander homes have been updated in these six new homes, which feature larger rooms, H-forzt ceilings, gourmet kitchens, and a smart control irrigation system. These homes on Royal Palm Court also received a blast of glamour: Six interior designers were charged with creating luxurious interiors worthy of the $1.8 million price tags. Lighting by George Kovacs suddenly shone down on the terrazzo tile embedded with bits of recycled glass and the concrete floors were polished to a glossy shine. Furnishings from local stores Classic Chic. Mitchell Gold Bob Williams. PAD., Ligne Roset. and the new-to-Palm Springs Interior Illusions were brought itchy the truckload before the homes welcomed their first visitors last March.

Several designers jumped at the chance to track down the finest in eco-friendly furnishings to take the mission one step further. Lori Dennis of Dennis Design Group in Beverly Hills, relied heavily on Livingrecn in Culver City for art, accessories. linens, and bedding made of organic or recycled materials in the model home she designed. “The coolest thing about green building is that you can reside in a home that is less toxic to you and the environment and actually save money on energy while doing it, Dennis says. Contempo estimates these homer will see electric bills that are 70 to 80 percent less than comparably sized homes nearby.

Moreover. green building affects the aesthetics of a structure only to the extent that the client wishes to have those elments exposed, attests Mark Nichols of Mark Nichols

Modern Interiors in Palm Springs. An owner can have it either way for the Contempo Homes, designers enjoyed free rein, as the homes’ energy-efficient aspects were hidden away. Designer Patrick Mundt. owncr of Classic Chic in Rancho Mirage. appreciated that Contempo’s -green building materials were integrated into the overall design and never seen In addition, he says, “Going green allows you to spend less on water, upkeep. and electricity, so you have more to spend on fabulous art and the best in interior design and furnishings.”

By Jered Friedland
Photography By Scott Van Dyke

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