Thursday, February 3, 2011

Previewing 2011 Palm Springs Modernism Week

A home by E. Stewart Williams in Palm Springs, Calif.
Excerpted from the Los Feliz Ledger:

The crisp, clean lines of modernist homes look fine in Los Angeles but out in Palm Springs’ brilliant sunshine, they gleam and appear of-the-moment. Attributes such as post-and-beam construction, walls of glass that bring the sagebrush closer and the requisite shimmering swimming pool are highlighted in the desert climate. For those that are fans of the style, Palm Springs Modernism Week (February 17-27) is an increasingly popular salute to the genre and its esteemed architects like Richard Neutra, Albert Frey and William Krisel.

More than 16,000 attended the fan fest for all things mid-century in 2010 and this year organizers expect to welcome even more to the 10-day event. Activities range from a Modernism (design) show with 80 dealers, daily architectural tours via double-decker bus, several exclusive home tours, a design-related film series (including Doug Pray’s documentary Art & Copy), a vintage travel trailer show and a retro-styled martini party and fundraiser for the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation.

Jacques-Pierre Caussin, board chairman of Modernism Week, notes the show draws participants from across the U.S. as well as Australia, France and Japan—all interested in the architectural and design style that defined the post-war era. Home tours this year provide a rare glimpse inside some pristine examples such as the E. Stewart Williams-designed Edris House perched on a promontory in the Little Tuscany Estates or his estate for Frank Sinatra with its iconic piano-shaped swimming pool.

E. Stewart Williams-designed Edris House, Palm Springs
Although numerous buildings of the era have been torn down—most famously Richard Neutra’s Maslon House in nearby Rancho Mirage—many have been energetically restored. For those seeking a revived mid-century experience, check out the King’s Highway diner (once a Denny’s) at the Ace Hotel.  Built by the firm of Armet & Davis, which also built Silver Lake’s 1958 Googie-styled, Astro Family restaurant, the flagstone walls have been sandblasted clean, the original terrazzo floor revealed and the booths restored in dark leather all under a dramatic vaulted roof.

Googie architecture restored: King's Highway at the Ace Hotel
If you can’t make it out to Palm Springs for Modernism Week, get a modernist fix locally via annual home tours conducted by the CSSLR.  Upcoming: Dion Neutra is planning a Richard Neutra site tour for April 10.  Or check out Silver Lake News and graphic artist Nate Schulman’s online map that carefully cites more than 230 modernist and modern homes in the area.

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