Palm Springs Modernism Week usually runs during February, but pandemic restrictions this year meant that the beloved desert architecture event had to adjust. Following an entirely digital, four-week-long programme two months ago, the festival of desert modernism is now back for its second instalment. This time, running for ten days from the 8 April 2021, options include carefully planned, in-person (following strict Covid-19 safety protocols) visits and tours, open-air events, talks and screenings; all conveying the laid-back, sunny attitude and serious design credentials that Palm Springs is known for. Meanwhile a new digital element, including a new film on architect Raymond (Ray) Kappe, will unfold through the PSMW’s website. Here we explore some of this segment’s finest offerings.

Top picks: Palm Springs Modernism Week, 8-18 April

Desert Modernism: Two Perspectives. Two Home Tours – Kappe and Lockyer

Image of Kappe House, courtesy of Desert Palisades

In a bargain two-in-one deal, guests in this tour will get to see not one, but two architectural marvels of desert modernism in one fell swoop. The event opens the doors to a brand new home designed by the late architect and educator Ray Kappe (1927-2019), one of the most well known representatives of Calofirnian architecture. The home, finished posthumously in 2021 and located in the Desert Palisades neighbourhood, will feature furniture by Modern Hacienda in partnership with Herman Miller and Carl Hansen & Søn. The second stop to the tour is the latest offering by architect Sean Lockyer of studio AR&D. Drawing on desert modernism and moulding in the beauty of its natural context, the home is set to become a new icon for Palm Springs style. 

Levels of Kappe

For those wanting to delve deeper into the legacy of iconic Southern California architect Ray Kappe, this new film could be just the thing. Offering a virtual exploration of Kappe’s work, in particular his striking midcentury and 1970s residential designs, the film puts the spotlight on the architect, educator, and original founder of SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture). Viewings will be available through the Palm Springs Modernism Week website from 15 April. The digital programme also includes several guided video tours and a conversation with Palm Springs icon Nelda Linsk, longtime friend of photographer Slim Aarons and owner of the Richard Neutra-designed Kaufmann House. 

Featured Homes tour: Seventies Sackley

Photography: Bethany Nauert

A modernist residence designed in 1975 by noted architect Stan Sackley is among Palm Springs Modernism Week’s ‘Featured Homes’ tour. The home, set in the prestigous Indian Canyons neighbourhood, has been recently reimagined by interior designers Michael Ostrow and Roger Stoker of Grace Home Furnishings. Combining contemporary interiors and styling with midcentury architectural influences and long views towards the San Jacinto Mountains, this residence embodies Palm Springs, from its laid-back poolside attitude, to its effortless elegance and acclaimed design credentials. 

Featured Home tour: Sunburst Palms

Photography: Patrick Ketchum

Another one in the Palm Springs Modernism Week ‘Featured Homes’ tour, this is an H3K renovation of a midcentury Lawrence Lapham property. Titled ‘Sunburst Palms’ and set in the historic neighborhood of Deepwell, the house was designed by Lapham for Academy Award Winner Edward ‘Bud’ Furer in 1956. Now fully refreshed for its new owners but maintaining its original character and architectural intention, while adjusted to 21st-century requirements, the residence mixes seamlessly old and new. 

Tour Famed Architect John Lautner’s Iconic 1947 Living Units at The Lautner Compound

A self-guided tour for lovers of John Lautner’s iconic modernism, this activity takes visitors through The Lautner Compound. The residential complex, originally designed for Hollywood producer Lucien Hubbard in 1947, is a collection of three boutique properties that have been recently given a refresh by interior designer Tracy Beckmann and furniture designer Ryan Trowbridge. Available as rentals, the houses offer the opportunity to experience living in a Lautner designed environment. 

Sunnylands Center & Gardens – Landscape Tour

We are told that this tour may have been already fully booked, and it’s no wonder; in Palm Springs’ pleasant climate, spending time outdoors feels like a no-brainer. Organised for small groups of up to six, the tour spans the green expanses of the Sunnylands Center & Gardens – a private estate and historic home built in 1966 by philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg. The event includes visits and information on its landscape, outdoor sculpture, nine-hole golf course, and sustainability efforts: perfect for lovers of gardens and open air architecture and art.

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