Mid-Mod JT Getaway

When you've got more dogs than humans in your house, it's a massive undertaking to take them with you on a road trip. And my man and I LOVE a good road trip. A few years back, when we were 50% less dog, we traveled for days with Lucie and Fred in tow, stopping off to visit friends (and drink amazing, smoky, dangerously delicious mezcal made by Ron Cooper) in Taos and Sante Fe, taking our time on long, aimless walks with the dogs, watching them frolic in their first (and only) snowfall, running into Paul Ruscha serendipitously and having an incredible brunch with him the next morning. 

Since we've doubled our in-house rescue dog population, it's been a challenge to take our knuckleheads with us on trips in the 4-Runner. We're also fairly picky in where we'd like to stay (I cannot abide wall-to-wall carpeting, bedskirt ruffles, or pink carnation wallpaper -- and, yes, these things continue to exist in the 21st century) and we don't want to put the dogs through an epic trip wherein most of the time is spent in the truck, en route. And so, we head to JOSHUA TREE! A mere two-hour drive to arrive at the quiet, calm, and transcendent beauty of the desert. There's nothing quite like it and I've been mad for the desert since my first introduction to it eight years ago. 

In serious need of this getaway weekend, we managed to, by nothing short of a miracle, find an incredible, mid-century modern ranch house on AirBnb that accepted dogs (!!) and had fenced in acreage (!!) and could fit our three-day stay into their booking schedule (!!). We were psyched, and even more psyched upon arrival. Not only were our hosts, Colleena and Nathan, two of the nicest humans I've ever met, but they were super cool, to boot. The ranch's record collection included Love and Rockets, REM, the Rolling Stones, Donovan, the Killers, Chrissie Hynde, David Bowie, and more. We played records while making lunch, eating dinner, and pretty much every moment we weren't just sitting outside on the patio, breathing deeply, reading the paper, and watching our pups romp gleefully and safely within the sandy confines of the fenced yard.

Donut, taking a load off after many, many hours worth of sun and sand-filled fun. 

Donut, taking a load off after many, many hours worth of sun and sand-filled fun. 

The wonderfully designed, super comfortable and dog-friendly house is just a few minutes from Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Art Museum (now returned to the desert since its LACMA exhibition earlier this year) and a hop, skip, and a jump from Yucca Valley's hip shops and restaurants. We were in seventh heaven. As were the dogs, who managed to have so much damn fun that they were falling asleep sitting up (photo evidence included in this post. see below.). 

Frederick: TOO....MUCH...FUN....zzzzzzzz

Frederick: TOO....MUCH...FUN....zzzzzzzz

Heads up, all my design-loving and dog-adoring friends! Check out this magnificent spot in the magical, restorative high desert. Go. Relax. Romp. Nap. Eat. Stroll. Boogie. Breathe. Get outta the city and into the ineffable quiet of endless sands and yucca trees. It'll do your soul some good. And at the very least, you'll finish that book you've been reading. 


Exploring Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Art Museum for the second time in several years. Incredible sculptures from a restless and imaginative mind...

Exploring Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Art Museum for the second time in several years. Incredible sculptures from a restless and imaginative mind...

Colleena's creating this mosaic masterpiece on the exterior wall of the recording studio, which looks onto the backside of the main house. 

Colleena's creating this mosaic masterpiece on the exterior wall of the recording studio, which looks onto the backside of the main house. 


A couple times a year, I'm lucky enough to be invited to dine in the magical Culver City backyard of Lisa Chester Schroeder and her husband, Denny. A lovely, warm, and gregarious couple, they never cease to amaze me and my man with the multiple courses of deliciousness (some of which has been purchased during one of their many international jaunts), accompanied by more than a few bottles of wine and hours upon hours of conversation. Ubiquitous at these dinners are artists, writers, designers, inventors, and, like any skilled hostess, Lisa assigns the seating, so you can't simply cozy up next to your partner and casually kvetch about the traffic on the 10 or your annoying new co-worker - your curiosity and amity concerning the unknown are mandatory elements of the consummate experience.

As Southern California mainstays for a long while, Lisa and Denny are close friends with many contemporary artists, so they've an enviable art collection, and having worked with Herman Miller in several capacities for nearly two decades, Lisa is a fount of knowledge about the company and its inner workings. Naturally we couldn't wait to chat with Lisa about the ultimate deities of design, Lisa's own rescue cats, and what she cannot go without during her travels in our SHAPERS Q+A*! Enjoy! ~Rebecca

Could you tell me a little bit about your job as a global account manager with Herman Miller? How long have you worked with the company?

I am fortunate to be entering into my 18th year at Herman Miller.  While working here, I have had many different roles.  Over the past 4 years, I have been leading the Western US as the Director of Sales for our Healthcare team.  Many people don't realize that Herman Miller has been providing solutions to the Healthcare industry for 50 years.  It all began with Robert Propst.  Providing solutions that can enhance the experience of the caregiver, the patient and the family members is incredibly rewarding. 

I imagine you have at least a handful of interesting anecdotes, having worked with Herman Miller for so many years. Would you be able + willing to share one of these unforgettable stories with Lily Spindle?

Yes, I do and yes, some of these I can not share.  But some I can.  What is interesting about your question is the way you asked it: "unforgettable stories".  After an employee has been with Herman Miller for 20 years, we become known as a Water Carrier.  In Native American societies, the water carrier plays an essential function that helps a tribe survive. Former CEO, Max DePree, introduced the concept of water carriers to Herman Miller in 1987, and described them this way in his book, Leadership Jazz: “The tribal water carrier in this corporation is a symbol of the essential nature of all jobs, our interdependence, the identity of ownership…” Part of the role of the Water Carrier at Herman Miller is to pass along stories to the newer employees within our organization.  One of the reasons we use stories is that this is a way we as humans can more easily learn.

Here's a story for you that you may not know:

In 1954, Charles and Ray Eames designed a home for Max DePree and his family in Zeeland, MI.  After residing there for approximately 20 years, he was contemplating selling the home.  Word got around town that he was considering the sale.  At the Herman Miller company picnic, one of our employees asked if he could purchase the home.  However, Max had not decided yet, if he would sell, but if he would, he would give the first option to buy to him.  The DePree family sold the home and the Herman Miller employee, Rynbrandt,  purchased it in 1975. Herman Miller purchased the home back in 2010 with plans to restore and preserve it.. The side story goes that Max began looking through old photos of the home to assist Herman Miller in the restoration.  As he spotted pieces of furniture that had been in the home, but had since been passed along to his family, he began calling his children to give it back in an effort to place back to its original "home". 

Charles and Ray Eames, posing with their chair bases. Photograph: Eames Office

Charles and Ray Eames, posing with their chair bases. Photograph: Eames Office

Collage of a room display for An Exhibition for Modern Living, 1949. Photograph: Eames Office

Collage of a room display for An Exhibition for Modern Living, 1949. Photograph: Eames Office


You are, as far as I'm concerned, a gastronome of significant proportion. Your dinners last for hours upon hours, replete with multiple courses, many bottles of wine, and a buzzing table of artists, writers, designers, and entrepreneurs. Did you ever consider making beautiful, delicious food your full-time passion?

Rebecca, yes, I have pondered this in the past.  However, at my age now, I enjoy simply providing my gift of cooking for friends and families.  I began cooking at 4.  When I was 6, my father told me that I should be a "food taster" in a restaurant. Back then, food critics and chefs were really not on the radar of my family in my small town. 

I have a dear friend that is a chef and caters beautiful meals, upon my retirement, I would love to work for her.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning. I get up most days between 4-5 am.

You and your husband, Denny, have quite a few rescue cats. What are their names and where are there most beloved sleeping spots in the house?

Nambe-on top of the cat tower
Sir Stirling-on top of Nambe
Julia Alexander-In the Eames aluminum chair
LBC (little black cat)-under the Eames sofa
Mija-on an orange pillow on the Eames sofa

Name your favorite Herman Miller design and describe it using three words.

Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair

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It seems like you travel a lot (like A LOT a lot) for your job. What are the things you never travel without?

-My coffee press and Peet's Coffee (two things, but they go together)

If you could have lunch with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? And where would you dine?

Julia Child in my backyard.

*Lily Spindle's SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity in what they do. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series.


Okay, so the famous Roman amphitheatre doesn't actually need a makeover from Lily Spindle. It's been doing fine (with several archaelogical excavations and transformations from the 16th to the 19th centuries) since its inception in A.D. 80, whereupon it commingled reality and illusion, cinema and cruelty, storytelling and slaughter for five centuries. But being in this labyrinthine structure, imagining where 50,000 Romans sat to witness reenactments meant to honor and extol the Roman empire (and thusly kill some thousands of bear, ostriches, lions, giraffes, hippos, elk, and cranes, among others), was pretty overwhelming. The architecture is awe-inspiring and mind-boggling in its intricacy and you can feel the history of the place underneath your feet. Even with all those sweaty tourists surrounding you and the ubiquitous "selfie stick" being utilized at every turn.

We were lucky enough to spend the last couple of weeks in Rome, Naples, and Capri, with a day trip to Sorrento. Our escapades involved art, shopping, and, of course, eating until we could barely stand ourselves. But hey, that's what Italy's all about, right? We'll be sharing some shots from our two-week sojourn in the next handful of blog posts, so stay tuned! Ciao!