For the first time in several years, our Indian Canyon neighborhood wasn’t included in this year’s home tours for Modernism Week. In years past, Sharon and I had volunteered to be docents. It was a great opportunity to meet more of our neighbors and peek in on the lives of the design-conscious, artsy-types who created these one-of-a-kind homes in our South Palm Springs neighborhood. Those homes are as much a statement as anything else. They speak of great taste in design, opulence, class, and status.
Beginning in the mid-40s, architects originated a design movement specific to the greater Palm Springs area. It became known as Desert Modern. Their buildings featured ground-breaking techniques such as post-and-beam supports, floor-to-ceiling glass walls and a wide array of colors to match the surrounding mountains and desert. Now famous architects such as William Krisel, E. Stewart Williams, Albert Frey, William F. Cody, Richard Neutra, and Donald Wexler were among the masters of this design.
Modernism Week is a signature event held every February in Palm Springs. It attracts thousands of modern architecture lovers from all over the country and the world. There are a host of events to showcase and highlight the very best of modernism designs and trends. There are art fairs, a modernism yard sale, vintage car show, lectures and films on historical Palm Springs arch-itecture, as well as many events at the convention center. Every year one of the highlights of the event are the neighborhood home tours.
While we didn’t get to tour homes in our neighborhood we did have a chance to visit the West Elm house designed specifically for this year’s Modernism Week. West Elm (a branch of William-Sonoma) offered a home tour for a vacation rental property that had been entirely decorated with West Elm furniture and dressings. They called it the Pool House and it was stunning.
It was fascinating to see what had been done to one of these retro houses and how the other half lives. Most of these homes were owned by interior designers…no surprise there. Each was a designer’s delight. Stunning is not too strong a word to describe some of those settings.
Fortunately, my taste doesn’t lean toward mid-century modern architecture or eclectic furnishings. I’m too old-fashioned for a $10,000 sofa designed by some ancient Italian or a chair made out of Plexiglas. Give me a comfortable chair, a cup of coffee and the mountains as my backdrop. That’s all I need.
Still it’s fun to look.