High Desert House in Joshua Tree Is an Otherworldly Architectural Icon
Though John Lautner is often considered one of the most famous Californian, organic modern masters of the 1960s and ’70s, it was arguably San Diego architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg who took the style to new heights. A spectacular example of his work is the 5,000-square-foot engineering marvel known as High Desert House, on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park’s alien landscape.
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As the story goes, in 1986 Kellogg received a handwritten note from artists Jay and Bev Doolittle that read: "Dear Mr. Kellogg, My wife and I recently purchased a very interesting, though unconventional, building site in the California desert."
Kellogg was intrigued, and upon visiting the couple and seeing their unusual, majestic 10-acre plot nestled within a cluster of massive boulders in the middle of the desert, he took on the project, and with carte blanche, designed what is probably one of the most striking organic modern residences to date.
The idea was that the house would be settled in the landscape. Like it was crouching on the rocks, maybe like an animal asleep.
—Kendrick Bangs Kellogg
After Kellogg completed the building, famed artisanal designer John Vugrin came on board, and spent the next 14 years meticulously crafting all the furniture and decor elements for the interiors.
When the interiors were completed in 2014, the New York Times described Kellogg’s High Desert House as the "most unsung great residence in America by one of architecture’s least-known major talents."