Travel Diary: Designer Trina Turk Takes on Cuba
If you’re familiar with the popular fashion label Trina Turk, it should come as no surprise that the brand’s namesake founder has an affinity for bright colors and bold patterns. So where better to look for inspiration than Cuba—a destination that epitomizes vivacious energy, stunning architecture, and bold flavors.
Together with her husband, Jonathan Skow (the brains behind Mr. Turk, the brand’s menswear counter-label), Turk recently embarked on an eight-day cultural exchange and architecture tour of the island, organized by the Los Angeles Conservancy.
The pair saw everything from the baroque Havana Cathedral to Richard Neutra’s 1956 Casa de Schulthess and glamorous frozen-in-time midcentury hotels, like the Meyer Lansky-funded Habana Rivera and the Habana Libre, formerly the Havana Hilton.
“One highlight was a dinner at a small restaurant in the colonial town of Trinidad,” Turk says. “Everyone in the room, even the waiters, was on their feet dancing to the irresistible music of the house band, Cuarteto Isla. The energy was amazing, though the Cuba Libres, daiquiris, and mojitos no doubt helped!”
In Old Havana’s Plaza de la Catedral with my husband, Jonathan Skow, and the baroque cathedral in the background.
The interiors of the late 1950’s Habana Rivera hotel are amazingly still intact. I love the lobby’s travertine walls, Giò Ponti-esque seating, and bold primary-colored textiles.
The coffee shop at Habana Rivera has gorgeous patterned terrazzo floors and period dining sets upholstered in terracotta vinyl.
The poolside fountain at Habana Rivera has such whimsical plaster, depicting sea life, and mosaic tiles speckled with gold.
A Schulthess house, designed by Richard Neutra; now the Swiss embassy.
Inside the lobby of the Art Deco Bacardi building, wearing a print we created in celebration of Trina Turk’s 20th anniversary this year.
The grand-scale modernist mosaic by Cuban artist Amelia Peláez, displayed across the front of Habana Libre. The hotel, formerly the Habana Hilton, was designed by Welton Becket and Associates, in 1958.
Vintage signage at El Floridita, a bar that was famous for its daiquiris and reportedly one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering holes.
The plaza in Trinidad is bordered by the colorful homes of former sugar barons, some of which have been converted into museums.
Jonathan, with the proprietor of the best hat shop in Trinidad. They were a bargain at just $5!
Cuarteto Isla—the house band at Sol Ananda, a paladar (a Cuban term meaning family-run business) in the neighborhood of Trinidad. We brought clothing with us on the trip to give away, so they’re outfitted in Trina Turk and Mr. Turk.
Traveling in style with our friends Shev Rush and Kevin Lane.
We passed by this empty room, just off the street, on our way up the stairs to Paladar La Guarida. The scene was quite captivating.
The chic rustic dining room in Ernest Hemingway’s former residence, now a museum called the Finca Vigía.
A night at the Tropicana—not to be missed!
The Cuban flag, alongside the American flag and a car air freshener—too funny!