Modernism Week - The Best Is Yet to Come! - Visit Palm Springs tag-img

Modernism Week – The Best Is Yet to Come!

linda kay singer modernism week

By Barbara Beckley

Can you believe? Modernism Week 2023 will be the 18th year Palm Springs celebrates its world famous architecture! Like the forever futuristic-looking midcentury buildings – Modernism Week improves with age – wowing Modernists with endless architectural surprises, inspirations and insider “firsts.”

How so?  Well… Palm Springs has the largest number of midcentury buildings on earth! So in 18 years, the city’s just getting started.

Plus – little known fact. Modernism Week has raised more than $1.8 million for local architectural scholarships and architectural restoration! “Modernism Week is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization,” Lisa Vossler Smith, Modernism Week CEO, proudly emphasizes.

Eyes Wide Open  

This year – more so than ever – Modernism Week, February 16-26, 2023, is opening the crème de la crème of never-before-seen midcentury gems. For the first time – you can breach the gates of the exclusive Southridge neighborhood. The hilltop enclave where Bob Hope’s house majestically sits. The “Southridge Signature Home Tour” provides entry into killer residences designed by midcentury architect legends John Lautner and Hugh Kaptur. Don’t expect to see Hope’s place, though – at least not this time.

Learn what “combed plywood” is all about at the 1946 Robson Chambers House. No surprise Chambers was Albert Frey’s architectural partner, once you see the avant gard industrial lighting, corrugated aluminum and yes, combed plywood walls.

Palm Springs -- Modernism Week Fall Preview October 2022, corrigated aluminium and glass define the 1946 Robson Chambers House.

Tour The Shag House, artist Josh Agle’s Palm Springs residence. He’s also throwing a few parties.  Visit the Hawaiian-inspired 1963 Hi-Sun Home, by architect Charles Du Bois, and the 1957 Ocotillo Lodge, designed by Krisel as accommodations for prospective Alexander home buyers. One unit even has Krisel’s signature on the cupboards. And, yes. It’s like new.

The just-restored 1960 House of Tomorrow, aka The Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, brought back to what the 4,700-square-foot Krisel-designed icon may have looked like when the Alexander Family lived there.

elvis honeymoon hideaway

Welcome to “Palm Springs Land”

This is just the tip of the Modernism thrills. Take your pick of more than 350 events, parties and activities in 11 days! Highlighting architecture, art, interior and landscape design, and vintage culture throughout the Coachella Valley.

“See that gas station? It’s the most spectacular gas station in the Western Hemisphere – with a graceful roof like a soaring swan taking flight.” Whoa! Only midcentury pop culturist Charles Phoenix could describe master architect Albert Frey’s 1965 Tramway Gas Station-turned Palm Springs Visitor Center with such flamboyant enthusiasm. And have us passengers cheering for more.

palm springs visitor center

A beloved staple since Modernism Week debuted in 2005, the double decker bus architectural tours offer a diversity of styles including serious history and factual but over-the-top-exuberance.

Modernism Week_Bus Tour

I took “The Charles Phoenix Super Duper Double Decker Bus Tour” during the teaser “Modernism Week Fall Preview” in October 2022. Wow! My take on Palm Springs will never be the same – in a good way.

“Welcome to ’Palm Springs Land’ – the most spectacular land in the known universe!” Phoenix declared, as we headed to “Palm Springs most glamorous neighborhood,” as he described Las Palmas. “I grew up in Anaheim at Disneyland, so I see everywhere as ‘lands’,” he enthused, throwing his arms in the air. Lucky for us Palm Springs is his favorite land. With a twinkle in his eye, he described the classic 1964 Donald Wexler-designed Dinah Shore House (now Leonardo DiCaprio’s) as “midcentury ‘mud-ern.’” Explaining, “The house is made of mud. The outside walls are adobe.”

dinah shore estate palm springs

Downtown, those small inns aren’t inns – they’re “resort-ettes.” Designed by “rock star” architects (Frey, Wexler, Krisel, etc.). And riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway isn’t from the desert to the mountains. It’s “like going from Mexico City to Juneau, Alaska,” in Phoenix-speak. A not-to-miss, for sure.

Tikis, Go-Go Dancers and Séances

Tikis stared everywhere as we blind-tasted mai tais (full size, of course) from the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar, Bootlegger Tiki and The Tonga Hut Restaurant & Tiki Bar poolside at the new “Midcentury Mai Tai Domination Cocktail Party,” hosted by modernism movers-and-shakers Rod and Cindra Stolk. A perfect way to see their newly tiki-tricked-out 1947 modernist home. Once the vote was in. Tommy Bahama dominated. But you be the judge in February.

For the first time, over in the 1964 Canyon View Estates, fringe flew and Go-Go dancers pranced at the ‘70s “Cul de Sac A-Go-Go Block Party, a Midcentury Time Capsule Experience.” A hip new way to view the gorgeous William Krisel-designed homes like those featured in Warner Bros. psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling,” filmed in the same complex. Enhanced with rare midcentury cars – remember station wagons? And delish orange-and-vanilla ice cream bars. (Note: This event is exclusive to Modernism Week – October).

Palm Springs -- Modernism Week Fall Preview October 2022, Cul de Sac A-Go-Go

Not for The Birds

New on the presentation schedule, “The Architecture of Suspense: The Built World in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock.” Exploring for the first time – the buildings as characters in Hitchcock’s most popular films. Yikes! Also new, “Retro Style on Film: Designing the Costumes and Sets for ‘Don’t Worry Darling’,” followed by wine and hors d’oeuvres.

And the 2023 Opening Keynote Presentation by Thom Mayne, FAIA, and co-founder of the Southern California Institute of Architecture, followed by a book signing and reception at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Endearing Favorites

Of course, all our favs continue to wow. The “Modernism Week Opening Night Party – Studio 74,” with a ‘70s disco vibe, libations and dining and dancing at the 1961 Wexler-designed Indian Canyons Golf Resort clubhouse. The “Retro Martini Party” at a 1955 E. Stewart Williams-designed residence. “Sunday Night at the Sinatra Estate,” at his Twin Palms pad. And always fun “Opening Night Preview Party for the Palm Springs Modernism Show,” with first dibs on vintage merch paired with live music, wine and nibbles.

modernism week opening party

Also the classy “Vintage Fashion Show” (Louis Vuitton, Pucci, Gucci, etc.) arranged by Mitchell Karp of Mitchells Palm Springs at the midcentury Temple Isaiah. Although you won’t see that Escada floral jacket on the runway anymore. I just bought it – a steal at $185 – at Mitchells’ October “Curated Vintage Event.” And CAMP (Modernism Week’s free “Community and Meeting Place”) at the Hyatt Palm Springs for mid mod comradery, cocktails, light bites, presentations, gift items at Destination PSP and other pop-up boutiques, and Modernism tickets.

Don’t miss out! Modernism Week tickets are on sale now! 

modernism week vintage car show

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