Every year thousands of visitors dressed in their best Mad Men fashions flock to Palm Springs for a taste of mid century modern architecture and lifestyle. Modernism – which originated in the 1950s and 1960s – is a design aesthetic defined by clean, simple lines and elegant informality – some believe was Southern California’s golden era.
In 2006 a group of local design and architecture enthusiasts created Modernism Week to showcase the world-renowned mid century modern architecture of Palm Springs. Homes characterized by open floor plans and indoor/outdoor living. The annual February event features 250 exciting and diverse activities throughout the week celebrating mid century modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture, as well as the ultimate modern mobile vacation home - vintage travel trailer exhibition.
You don’t have to be a design professional to appreciate Modernism Weeks events. If you haven’t visited Palm Springs mark your calendar for next year, That gives you plenty of time to get your mod squad together for some retro-kitsch and explore the beautiful valley for some space age design inspiration.
Enjoy the photos from last week’s events.
I had the opportunity to tour Twin Palms, the original desert estate of Frank Sinatra. Located in the Movie Colony neighborhood where some of Hollywood’s biggest stars lived, such as Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Tony Curtis, Gloria Swanson, and Jack Benny. The Movie Colony was developed in the 1930s and 1940s. Frank Sinatra made it his neighborhood in the 1950s when his home, shown here, known as “Twin Palms,” became party central.
Another great tour was the Christopher Kennedy Compound, a decorator show house, it was so fun and over the top. There were so many great rooms done by guest designers including Carson Kerssley from queer eye for the straight guy. I loved his use of bright colors for a girl’s room. The master closet was my favorite though.
The mid century American explosion in Polynesian Pop culture or Tiki Culture was due to service men returning from WWII with their stories from the South Pacific along with the newly established air travel to Hawaii and its subsequent state hood in 1959. Palm Springs has several Polynesian themed hotels and shops, as well as retro themed art studio by the artist Shag.
Explored the interiors of these amazing, one-of-a-kind, restored vintage travel trailers at the vintage trailer show! Some truly decked out interiors. The owners were on hand to talk about their trailers history, restoration, and travels - fun.
At an early age I set out to see the world, and while having already visited over 50 countries, I feel that my journey is just beginning. For me, travel and design go hand in hand. Whether seeking out great shops in trendy neighborhoods or exploring the architectural environment around me, discovering design inspiration everywhere I go enriches me to transform a client’s needs and desires into into their dream home.
Mike Howard is an award-winning designer specializing in kitchens, baths and small space design.