Gold Standard

Shimmering like a mirage, the surprising spectacle of this metallic house couldn’t contrast more sharply with the surrounding wilderness of the Southern California desert

by Jo Froude

A golden house would be impossible to ignore in any setting. But rising up from the wilderness of the Joshua Tree national park, Acido Dorado can’t fail to inspire a reaction. ‘Gold has so many cultural associations’ says its owner and architect Robert Stone, who insists that the initial shock of the bling factor is short lived. ‘After the first ten minutes, you get used to it. It isn’t really that flashy at all.’ Robert also designed the neighboring Rosa Muerta, a similarly configured but alI-black house which featured in ELLE Decoration last September. ‘It’s an architecture which fits the place,’ he says. ‘The design is inspired by some of the abandoned buildings from the 1920s that you see around here. Not some phony image of the American south-west.’

Honesty is central to the philosophy behind Robert’s striking architecture, which has its roots in conceptual art. ‘I don’t want to create bad copies of someone else’s work,’ he says. ‘If you’re going to make the effort to do something, it has to matter.’ So rather than working for a client and having to compromise on the design, he borrowed the money and now rents out the finished building as a vacation house to cover the costs. I don’t really think of it as my house,’ says Robert. ‘More like the world’s smallest hotel.’

With its mirrored ceilings and gilded interior, Acido Dorado oozes glamour but also has a remarkably close connection to the wilderness of its desert setting. ‘Inside there are many reflective surfaces, but you don’t actually see yourself. The reflections expand the space outwards – it’s not about narcissism.’ Whatever brings guests to this corner of the desert, from untamed nature to dazzling design, the chances are they won’t find exactly what they were expecting – and that’s the way Robert likes it. ‘I love it when the experience of things goes against preconceived ideas.’