The Black Desert House by Marc Atlan with Oller & Pejic

The Black Desert House sits atop a hill in the Joshua Tree National Park surrounded by the Mojave Desert and its iconic rocky outcrops. The house, as it’s name would suggest is black – completely black. It’s probably the blackest house I’ve ever seen and even the swimming pool is tiled in black. These black rendered walls have highly angular compositions and it has been likened to a B-2 stealth bomber.

The house is arranged around a central courtyard which features an angular gravelled area with olive tree. The plentiful windows still afford views out over the surrounding desert from this enclosed space which serves as an entrance point to the rest of The Black Desert House.

Some might find the black of the house oppressive but I think the totality of the darkness is quite effective. It allows you to better appreciate the composition of the house’s angular exterior – as is the case black and white photography – and the black and dark grey interior design makes the views over the surrounding desert seem even more vibrant.

The black tiled swimming pool certainly isn’t a step too far either. While the resulting dark teal water might look murky alongside a white rendered house, it fits The Black Desert House perfectly.

Likewise the dark grey of the interior also makes the few furniture pieces really pop. Rather than opting for a single highlight colour, Marc Atlan has decided to go for a palette of sunset hues: red, orange, yellow and fuschia. However these vibrant furniture pieces remains minimal and he hasn’t gone overboard as a lot of interior designers do by flooding a room with the same colour to the point of try-hard excess.

The open plan kitchen and dining area is also finished in black and dark grey but it is punctuated by the vibrant red tips of the Zettel’z 5 chandelier by Ingo Maurer and the red Stool One bar stools, derivations of Konstantin Grcic’s iconic angular Chair One. Likewise red has also been used as a highlight colour in the bedroom with a solitary red chest of drawers.

The Black Desert House was designed by Marc Atlan, a creative director, with the aid of architectural firm Oller & Pejic. The owners are currently promoting it as a setting for photo shoots and filming which makes sense given its California location and 30 minute proximity to Palm Springs.

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  1. Alexander

    i have to ask, what makes this a house? is it just the fact it has all the right rooms?
    if its made for photoshoots then shouldn’t it really be a studio?
    anyway, i’m curious about how the building handles thermally.
    is it uncomfortably hot all the time because of all the black?
    the large spaces would help but… has anything been done to make it comfortable thermally?

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Well yes, having an entrance, a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom does indeed make a building a house in my opinion. It was designed as a liveable house in which photoshoots can be done; does any house in which photos are taken in become a studio?
      There are a lot of misconceptions about the colour black and heat based on simplified elementary school education. Black clothes in the sun for example can actually keep you cool cool due to the convection currents they create within as is seen with bedouins.
      The house has windows and air conditioning/ventilation, as do pretty much all houses in the american deserts, and can be kept at a comfortable temperature.

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