The Palm Springs Modernism Week 2023 preview is upon us – and while this annual event is effectively just a little taster of its much more extensive sibling, the main event, the Palm Springs Modernism Week in February (16-26 February 2023), it still is a powerful injection of California sun, desert architecture and high modernism. Running for four days only, 13-16 October 2022, the mini festival gives its audience a glimpse of life in Palm Springs, from its celebrated, glamorous midcentury era, to its beloved, current mix of contemporary and modernist architecture. There is something for everyone; walking and bus tours, house visits, talks and parties – as is fitting for this design-led little West Coast city that is world-renowned for all things fabulous.
Palm Springs Modernism Week 2023 preview highlights
Premier Double Decker Bus Tour
There is no better way to get a quick injection of Palm Springs modernism than its annual bus tour. Experiencing grand villas, purpose-designed, whole residential neighbourhoods, homes of the rich and famous, modest modernist prefabs, and anything in between, from the comfort of a double-decker’s upper seat, is a treat to be embraced – just make sure to put on some sunscreen.
Sustainable Homes Tour
‘I hope to find clients in my career like Miles Bates was to Walter White – open to architectural experimentation, enthusiastic about marrying formal invention and environmental sustainability, and willing to explore new modes of living in an arid and unforgiving climate,’ has said Christian Stayner, the namesake principal of Stayner Architects. He was talking about his studio's recent refresh of Wave House, a Walter White design in the desert of Palm Springs – but there are many more homes that embrace an eco-approach in this part of the world, and this self-driving tour gives you a taste of a few of them, as well as the chance to meet the owners.
Frey House II Tour + Museum Day Pass
No Palm Springs modernist tour would be complete without a visit to Frey House II. The iconic residence, one of the most well-known works of architect Albert Frey, now belongs to the Palm Springs Art Museum, which is situated a short drive away. This event offers a 30-minute self-guided tour and a rare opportunity to explore the home. The tour includes a visit to the museum, which is in itself a midcentury joy created by E Stewart Williams.
Rat Pack Playground – Modernist Homes
Some of Hollywood's biggest stars have partied in Palm Springs, and many owned a home there. Members of the legendary Rat Pack were among them, and Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs retreat (see earlier entry) has been recently renovated with nostalgic 1960s interiors. While this particular house, designed by iconic Palm Springs architect E Stewart William, is one neighbourhood away from Vista Las Palmas, where this tour of modernist homes mostly focuses, there are plenty more residences to explore, including the instantly recognisable Kaufmann house by Richard Neutra (pictured above).
Midcentury Top Ten Tour: Ten Architects Who Made Palm Springs Modern
Guests on this extensive tour will get the chance to take a deep dive into the lives and work of some of the most prominent architects in Palm Springs. Crafting some of the modernist gems that we love and have come to associate with this desert town, a handful of architects has played a significant role in the look and legacy of this small, but punching-above-its-weight Californian town. Spotlights on Albert Frey, William F Cody, Donald Wexler, E Stewart Williams, William Krisel, Richard Harrison, John Porter Clark, Robson Chambers, Hugh Kaptur and Walter S White are among the offerings.
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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