Desert Modernism: Warm Up With These Cool Events

Festivals of all things modernism open in Palm Springs and Phoenix

Photo by Mood Creative

Tired of the cold and snow? It’s time to heat things up with a trip to the desert and experience the coolest design festivals on earth. We’re talking Modernism, of course.

From Feb. 16 to 26, the town of Palm Springs opens its doors for the annual 11-day festival, Modernism Week, and tickets are available now. In addition to musical performances, presentations on landscape architecture, car shows, color consultations, bus tours, and opening weekend parties, this year’s activities also include a presentation on “The Modern Architectural Movement Chronicled – Photographer G. E. Kidder Smith”; Googie Modern Architecture with Alan Hess and “Googie” Film Sneak Peek!; the talk The Modern Utopia: Why the Southern California Desert? by Leo Marmol, FAIA; and Black Leaders of Leisure in Southern California during the Jim Crow Era: The Implications of their Stories Today, presented by historian Alison Rose Jefferson.

Photo by David A. Lee

Among home and neighborhood tours still available are “Ukulele Love – Royal Hawaiian Estates Neighborhood Home Tour,” featuring homes built in 1961 by Wexler-Harrison; the Da Vaal Estates a Rancho Mirage Neighborhood Home Tour (near the Tamarisk Country Club, considered the original “Desert X” of Rancho Mirage, designed by Architect Val Powelson and built by developer Robert Marx); and Desert Lanai 4, A Charles Du Bois Community (featuring homes with Du Bois’ famous “Swiss Miss” roofline).

Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Thom Mayne, FAIA, is the keynote on Feb. 18. Mayne helped found the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), where he is a trustee and the coordinator of the Design of Cities postgraduate program, and is principal of Morphosis Architects in California and New York City. More details and great reading can be found online at the magazine M.

Meanwhile, in the Southwest, the small but mighty Modern Phoenix returns after a hiatus for a one-day “Resurrection Tour.” Tickets are available now, and the tour takes place on Saturday, March 18. The tour is self-guided and focuses on modern architecture—including homes—throughout central Phoenix. Founder Allison King runs this show with savvy and aplomb; read more about her here. She also spearheads efforts to document and preserve midcentury architecture in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

No posts to display