During my term as AIGA president, I discovered that I had three favorite tasks: calling people to tell them they had been awarded the Medal, meeting chapter leaders across the entire country, and picking the spot for the annual board retreat. Now before anyone gets in a huff about AIGA board members living high on the hog, this retreat is on everyone’s personal dime. It gives the board a chance to sit down and do some hard work together. As a California grown president I felt it was important to have our retreat in Palm Springs, just like Presidents Ford, Nixon, and Reagan. I chose the Parker Hotel. Formerly Gene Autry's Melody Ranch and Merv Griffin's Givenchy Resort and Spa, the Parker Palm Springs is a smallish hotel designed by Jonathan Adler.
I’d seen the Bravo reality show, Welcome to the Parker, and I thought it would be too chic-alors, and hip. I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, there were the standard Hollywood types who were very hip and groovy, but the Parker staff was down to earth and friendly. Nobody frowned at my madras shirts. In the end, I felt bad that I chose a beautiful sunny spot, and then forced the board to sit in a dark meeting room all day. But we finished each day with some quick time at the pool, and making s’mores and marshmallows by the fire pit in the evening. Being very trailer trash, and needing to save money, I smuggled in a bag of liquor from the local supermarket. Hey, the drinks at the bar were expensive. It was only slightly embarrassing to be mixing my favorite cocktail, Rum or Bombay Gin with Fresca while we toasted the marshmallows. The always elegant Debbie Millman now has the heavy responsibility (I mean this, it’s true) of the AIGA presidency. Debbie has good taste and is a well-raised person and I’m sure she will move the board away from Albertson Grocery runs for Fresca.