By Crystal Harrell

Greta Gerwig’s live-action Barbie movie has become the box office smash of the summer—garnering acclaim for its self-referential humor and feminist perspective seen through the rose-tinted lenses of the iconic fashion doll. While the star-studded cast and fabulous frocks are a couple of reasons the internet is overcome with Barbie fever, another aspect with ties to the classic architectural nuances of Palm Springs is the set design of Barbie Land — a standing testament to show that life in plastic truly can be fantastic.

According to, Barbie production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer — having six Oscar nominations between them — viewed Barbie Land as unknown territory during the initial design concept stage, but it was important to have a stark contrast with the Mattel make-belief appearance of Barbie Land and the real-world look of Los Angeles in the script by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach.

In an article by Architectural Digest, it was revealed that the production team started with a representation of Barbie Dreamhouse playhouse sets against the modernist backdrop of mid-century Palm Springs. The eventual theme park-like layout was actually inspired by an unidentified suburban photograph, while the architectural style of Barbie’s Dreamhouse was influenced by the Kaufmann Palm Springs Desert House by Richard Neutra.


After Kaufmann died in 1955, the real house stood vacant for several years in Palm Springs. It then had a series of owners, including singer Barry Manilow and San Diego Chargers owner Eugene V. Klein, and had several renovations. These renovations enclosed a patio, added floral wallpaper to the bedrooms and removed a wall for the addition of a media room. The roof lines were also altered with the addition of air-conditioning units. After being listed for sale for three-and-a-half years, the home was purchased in 1992 for $1.5 million

The house has been described as an architectural marvel that helped define the modernist aesthetic of the resort city of Palm Springs and it is designated a Class 1 Historic Site by the Palm Springs City Council.

While the modernist aesthetic is rife with pink plastics and dollhouse facsimiles of Palm Springs mansions in Barbie Land, the desert landscape also makes an appearance in the film, with the use of a hand-painted backdrop rather than CGI to capture the sky, the San Jacinto Mountain range, and palm trees seen surrounding the perimeter of Barbie’s playground.

A Palm Springs property that has become an Instagram hotspot—intensified even more so with the release of the Barbie movie—is the Trixie Motel, opened by famous drag queen Trixie Mattel who documented the process in a series on Discovery+ last year.

If you love all things pink and are looking for the perfect backdrop for your Barbie-centric Instagram photo op, the Trixie Motel is the place to be. Absolutely everything is pink, down to the heart-shaped pool floats, and it includes seven different custom-themed rooms to really make it an immersive experience.

The room themes include Malibu Barbara, pink flamingo, atomic bombshell, hearts, cowgirls, flower power, and there’s even a honeymoon suite. If you’re interested in booking a suite, be prepared: the motel is in high demand and prices can become inflated during the summer, so make sure you plan ahead. The room rates can start at around 250 dollars a night and go up from there, depending on when you travel.

It goes to show that Barbie is soaking up the sun in Palm Springs with no sign of leaving for the summer — with poolside fun, palm trees, and a dream house of pink depicting the city’s architectural legacy on the big screen.