“A home in the desert isn’t for everyone,” writes iO Tillett Wright. “But it’s not just for alien enthusiasts, wannabe cowboys, or hippies either.” He should know. Author of the best-selling 2016 memoir Darling Days, Tillett Wright is a “city kid to the bone” and yet also the author of Oasis: Modern Desert Homes Around the World, which spotlights the best of desert design.
There are homes overlooking the Pacific—from Peru’s four-story Casa Lefevre in Cañete to the single-floor B8 House outside Santiago, Chile—and homes that redefine what it means to be one with nature: Casa Mirador in Valparaíso, Chile, was built around an old espino tree, while the master bedroom of Villa Encuentro in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, shares space with a colossal gray boulder. There are places of pilgrimage, such as Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiú, New Mexico. A masterpiece of modern minimalism, it was designed by the painter and built on a property she bought from the Roman Catholic Church in 1945 for $5,000. “The only unexpected part,” writes Tillett Wright, recalling his visit there, “is that these contemporary-looking spaces were designed by someone who died in 1986.” There are Liz Lambert’s hotels, home, and hand-painted Airstreams in Marfa, the West Texas town made famous in the 1970s by Donald Judd and his Chinati Foundation art museum, as well as Arizona’s sprawling white-concrete Arcosanti, designed by the rebellious Frank Lloyd Wright pupil Paolo Soleri.