Desert Chic = Modernism Week

Palm Springs California, the hub of Mid-Century modern design and architecture, is currently hosting its annual Modernism Week from Feb.17 – Feb.27th 2011. What is Modernism Week? Modernism Week Mission Statement Modernism Week promotes public awareness of the desert’s mid-century modern design and architecture. Modernism Week celebrates the post-war design aesthetic and culture through educational and charitable activities”. This eleven-day event celebrating Modernism is held in various venues throughout Palm Spring’s Coachella Valley.  From exhibits and seminars to celebrity home tours and glamorous parties – there is ample “desert chic” for everyone. The downtown streets are buzzing, design shops and galleries are booming and the Convention Center once again hosted the 2011 Modernism Show (Feb 18-21st). I look forward to this event every year.  Not only is it a chance for our family to spend some quality time together with my folks who migrate down to Palm Springs from Winnipeg – it ‘s also great fun for Steven and I to transport ourselves back in time of the Rat Pack to “celebrate all things modern” (and grab a little lunch and a mimosa at our favorite place-Jake’s).  I come away incredibly inspired by the modern classic furniture design, the textures and patterns of wall coverings and fabrics and the overall warmth and elegance of Mid-Century architecture as a whole. The Modernism Show itself featured almost 80 exhibitors and dealers from all across the country representing some of the most refined and classic 20th Century furniture, decorative objects and fine art.  Weaving up and down the aisles, you couldn’t help but stop and chat with the dealers to learn of the fascinating “stories” behind each of these pieces.

Driving through the older communities of Palm Springs and wandering through the open houses is by far a highlight for me! From A-frame to butterfly roofs the classic Mid-Century homes have distinctive characteristics. Here is a glimpse of just one of the open houses where Mid-century modern meets Hollywood Regency.  Mid-Century homes were typically smaller in scale and square footage – which is evident in more track house communities. By the way this little gem is for sale…fully furnished!

Architect: William Krisel and built by the Alexander Company 1957

  • The style was very much influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and his principles of organic architecture.
  • Exteriors evolved from more severe flat roofs to gradual roof pitches, with post and beam construction and many times glass walls.
  • Expansive windows allowed for a more direct relationship between the interior and exterior – and typically created a more casual and relaxed style of living.
  • The rear of the home became the family retreat and circulated around the pools, patios and barbeques.
  • Celebrated the open floor plan where living spaces flowed easily from ones space to another.  It was a departure from the more compartmentalized traditional homes and provided the homeowner with greater flexibility in determining the living/dining zones.
From 1940 to1970 young architects were commissioned by some of Hollywood’s elite to design and build their desert oasis – far enough away from the Hollywood scene.  In fact Feb. 24th’s scheduled home tour is highlighting Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate designed by E Stewart Williams in 1947.  The true essence of desert glamor and I’ll be missing it.

Photo: Twin Palms

If you ever have the opportunity to visit a Modernism Show in your area – make the trip and enjoy the travel back in time. I highly recommend it! Stay Inspired! I encourage you leave questions or comments below this post, and fill out the form on the right hand side of this page to receive your free copy of my special report: “15 Money Saving Strategies When Planning Your Home Renovation” Article by Lori Gilder, Architectural Interior Designer, Los Angeles, Ca. © 2011 Lori Gilder. Interior Makeovers Inc.

Comments · 8

  1. I love the pop of yellow in that room with the white and gray, which gives me an idea for my guest room. I love MCM design elements, and my Palm Springs realtor from Patrick Stewart Properties will have a Wexler house open. I’m so sad that I’m missing Modernism Week!

    1. Hi Katie.
      It’s really a fun color combination. In fact not to date myself but when I was 13 my parents let me redecorate my bedroom and that was the exact color combo I used…, white, yellow and grey. I’m glad you found some inspiration here.

    1. Hi Cristin.
      Thank you so much for your very sweet words. I honestly look forward to that event each year. Next time the Show is up your way you should definitely check it out.
      I believe it was in SF back in Sept. of this year. You will definitely find all kinds of inspiration there.


  2. I never realized what a design culture is out in the desert. This is something I am very much interested in and would LOVE to get to the next time it’s running. Thank you for sharing the knowledge.


    P.S. Loving the blog Lori! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comment Eleni!

      It’s a great show and open houses and home tours make it that much more special. I highly recommend it! It’s usually scheduled through the President’s Day weekend in Feb. Definitely check it out next year….you’ll love it.


  3. @ Lori – thanks I seriously am so into the yellow and gray color combo now. I just got a new workbook, and it’s yellow and gray 🙂

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