Iconic singer Prince is gone but his music is reverberating worldwide in tribute. “His Royal Badness” brought the house down everywhere he performed. But the guitar wizard rocked most intently at Paisley Park Studios—the Chanhassen, Minnesota residence, recording studio, soundstage, nightclub, and concert hall where he honed his craft as a musician, producer, and charismatic live entertainer. Explore the amazing world of Prince with Design Limited Edition.
The prolific stilettoed superstar waved his musical wand with magical results at Paisley Park, where he played, lived and died. It was his Abbey Road. There, he wrote complex lyrics, composed melodies, blasted funky beats, played instruments, mixed albums, auditioned backup bands, rehearsed for tours, hosted parties, conducted rare interviews, and squeezed in a few hours sleep in between.
Paisley Park was Prince’s private palace, a music factory as mysterious as the enigmatic artist himself. Adjacent to Highway 5, the 65,000-square-foot compound is a $10 million big white aluminum-and-metal mansion with a nondescript, prison-like façade, few windows, retail-style parking lots, and encircling grassy knolls. The complex’s geometric exterior is as charming as an Amazon warehouse.
Several light-enhancing pyramidal skycaps grace rooftops, including an oversized pyramid skylight which hovers over the main entrance. A nearby domed oval building stands like a guard tower ready to take out trespassers.
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But don’t judge Paisley Park by its unspectacular cover. The property’s interior is more fascinating, although virtually visible only by word-of-mouth. Even if Paisley Park’s walls could talk, they’d shush—otherwise Prince would have disowned them instantly. His loyalty and hospitality were incumbent upon absolute respect for his privacy.
The property was conceived in 1983 during the filming of the Purple Rain movie (for which Prince won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score) — just as his superstardom detonated. Paisley Park was completed in 1988, designed to Prince’s specifications by Boto Design Inc. and then 23-year-old neophyte architect Bret Thoeny.
“Paisley Park,” a song on the composer’s psychedelic Around the World in a Day album, inspired the estate’s name (and his defunct Paisley Park Records). “Paisley Park” lyrics state: “Admission is easy, just say you believe. And come to this place in your heart. Paisley Park is in your heart.”
Admission is nearly impossible, but after his passing, Paisley Park is certainly on our mind. The complex was the reclusive artist’s refuge from immense fame—his comfort zone. It’s the first house Prince rocked before touring and the last venue he jammed in before bedtime.
From published reports Paisley Park’s interior is an eclectic mix of styles and quirky curiosities. The compound isn’t necessarily fashionable or trendy—it’s uniquely Prince. The windowless first-floor houses primarily music and film production, including the soundstage, and rehearsal areas. Prince’s residence and executive offices occupy upper floors where windows invite natural light into the spaces.
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The lobby is reminiscent of a “1950′s American diner,” and walls “vibrant reddish purple, flickering candles lined every ledge and the smell of incense filled the air,” according to London newspaper, The Mirror. This description may be lost in translation. More accurately, the super-bright lobby with purple carpeting is a Memphis design style highlighted by a “Raspberry Beret” cloud motif, Love Symbol #2 glyph on the floor, viewing balconies, and wide glass ceiling under the pyramid skylights.
Paisley Park is where Prince produced his mid-career classic hits “Alphabet Street,” “Sign O’ The Times,” “Diamonds and Pearls,” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” His song “White Mansion” pays homage to Paisley Park with lyrics: “But one day I’ll have a big white mansion. At the top of the road. I’m gonna wear the latest fashion. I’m gonna be happy, don’t you know.”
Prince died in Paisley Park’s elevator which make’s lyrics from 1984’s smash anthem “Let’s Go Crazy” all the more eerie: “And if the elevator tries to bring you down. Go crazy, punch a higher floor.” Could the very religious Prince have done that? You decide. Now that he’s gone, perhaps the public will get a better glimpse of Paisley Park, just as it’s posthumously learning about Prince Rogers Nelson, the man.
Paisley Park is already becoming a spiritual shrine for Prince fans, like Elvis’s Graceland. In fact, Prince’s family plans to turn the estate into a future Graceland-style museum open to all, according to Prince collaborator Sheila E. This news is ironic considering Prince purposely toned down Paisley Park’s exterior to avoid becoming Graceland.
His purple reign is over, but there’s a purple lining at Paisley Park. Not only will Prince’s music live on—thousands of unpublished tracks and countless videos of unreleased songs are allegedly secured in Paisley Park’s underground vault (which also protects his Grammys, Golden Globe and Oscar). As memorial candles flickered at Paisley Park, there was a final encore.
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If, like Prince, you believe in symbols, consider this sign o’ the times. Just as Prince slain the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show with his live rendition of “Purple Rain” during a deluge, it also rained in Minneapolis the day he died. Hours after his death, as somber fans paid their respects outside his estate, a rainbow arched over Paisley Park (and a full moon, the next night). Would it surprise anyone if the rain that fateful day was purple? That’s silly, who could possibly imagine a scenario of purple rain?
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