Palm Springs’ Modernism Week Turns 10


Sinatra House
Sinatra House

Modernism Week first began in Palm Springs back in 2005 and in the past 10 years, the annual festival celebrating mid century modern design, art, fashion and culture has grown massively. What was originally a niche fest surrounding the Modernism Show at Palm Springs Convention Center has swelled in size and scope. More than 45,000 people attended in 2014, and for their 10th anniversary, things have only gotten bigger and better. The 2015 festival kicked off Feb. 12 with 10 days of exclusive tours inside iconic desert homes, cocktail receptions and VIP speakers. Designer Todd Oldham delivered the keynote address about Alexander Girard, one of his own inspirations, and did a meet and greet at the Hilton Palm Springs while Land Rover returned for the second year as a major sponsor.

At first glance, there may not seem to be an obvious connection for a car company to Modernism Week, but Land Rover’s design director and chief creative officer Gerry McGovern explains he’s had a longstanding love affair with the desert destination and all things modernist. “I came to Palm Springs for the first time 20 years ago and have been coming back ever since,” he told HauteLiving. “The first time we collaborated was last year when we were involved with the Sinatra House and we’ve done it a bit bigger this time.”

Indeed. For 2015, Land Rover offered packages to the public that included touring 7 modern homes in chauffeured Land Rovers, culminating with a cocktail reception and design discussion at the Siva House, a 1959 Hugh Kaptor designed home featuring stunning scenic cliffside views over an infinity pool. “Art, design and culture is what we’re about as a brand,” Gerry, who owns a 1960’s modernist home in the UK, shared. “Design has become far more central to the brand than in the past, and I think it’s good to collaborate with events and endeavors that connect with our customers.” Land Rover also displayed the latest editions of their vehicles, including the Range Rover Sport and new Discovery Sport, outside of the homes on the tour for guests to explore.

Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra_DAL_4794_By David A Lee
Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra

Legendary Austrian architect and Kaufmann Desert House designer Richard Neutra was honored during a dedication on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars Friday, and his iconic Desert House featured in Slim Aarons’ Poolside Gossip more than 45 years ago was remembered in this year’s festival. Nelda Link and Helen Kaptur, the two women who posed in the famous photo, reunited Feb. 19 at the Annenberg Theater to reminisce about the shoot and share their favorite places in Palm Springs from the past and today.

Neutra’s work is also highlighted in a new book in honor of Modernism Week’s 10th anniversary. Desert Modernists – The Architects Who Envisioned Midcentury Modern Palm Springs profiles 12 architects with photos of the famed homes they created in a 144-page tome, on sale for $50