BG is a gorgeous large format fashion and design magazine from Spain.  Photos by Brad Lansill.

Robert Stone – The Dead Rose of the Desert

(Translated from Spanish text by Adriana Argudo)

Under the hot and relentless desert sun in Southern California we find a black silhouette that contrasts and complements its flat brown landscape.

Covered with a mirrored ceiling and surrounded by a screen with black fake flowers composed in strict geometric patterns, it blends with the warmth of the sand and gives life to the dead Southern California desert. Like a lost vernacular that developed over the generations after Manson killed the 60’s, the desert became over-run with dirt bikes, and the California dream rotted in the sun, Robert Stone designed a project beyond words with significant architecture that brings feelings from all who know this desert rose. The simple concept and complexity of the spaces result in a consistent and clear style.

Rosa Muerta is buried four feet into the ground with interior ceilings that are ten feet tall while the exterior appears to be too low to be a habitable structure. It’s walls are open to the surrounding natural elements, but it’s design carefully uses solar shading, thermal mass and breeze catching to regulate the temperature in a place that is an endless summer most of the year. For it’s creator, Robert Stone, Rosa Muerta is a perfect aesthetic for it’s time and place, a natural expression of the living culture of Southern California.

“Conceptually, I have a really different idea from most architects about where meaning resides in the subject-object relationship. Rather than thinking the meaning resides in the architectural object, or it’s abstract form, I consider that it is negotiated anew between the subject, the object and the context.”

Building elements of tile, glass and metal are monochromatic black to contrast to the beige view that dominates the area. The most striking and decorative element is the black rose metal work that that contrasts both visually and conceptually with the arid landscape.

Robert Stone is an architect who looks for meaning in the context, not simply in the trends but in the deeper expressions of the surrounding cultural context

“I am interested in the way that a monochrome space makes the building all about texture and sheen. I use flat, gloss, and satin blacks very carefully to create a rich palette of textures. I use monochrome color schemes to make people more self-conscious of their role The buildings are simply backgrounds or frameworks for the meaning and action that people bring to them and act out in them.”

As we look at this amazing project, we cannot stop thinking about how Gothic fashion may have found it’s way into this great signature work. And, how this project so effortlessly moves this into a more contemporary context.

Stone has presented his work in very different ways from that of more conventional architects. Fashion has been a crucial part of this presentation.

“I don’t really identify personally with goth, but I admit that I really respond to the high level of craft in fashion that has a gothic edge to it- Olivier Theyskens, 2003 Gucci, Hedi Slimane. It isn’t surprising that the fashion world was the first to respond to my work either. They are used to looking at things that are all-black but are also carefully detailed. They are also used to looking at things that are new, and deciding for themselves if they are interesting. Architects strangely were slow to see the architecture in my work- the roof structure held together with stainless pins, the gravity defying structural tricks,  or the concrete detailing, the spatial composition- the things that we architects get off on. They couldn’t get past the black color for a long time.”

“I think gothic as a style that favors the dark, irrational, and  sensual over the rational and modern is a really different thing in different places. In my work I am finding expression for the “real” culture of Southern California- not the adobe fantasy, or mid-century modern fantasy, but the real culture that is both natural and fake, sunshine and noir, religious and godless. But, the gothic style in the Southern California desert is probably something different than it is in Spain or London.”