Get Excited for Palm Springs Modernism Week—Here's What's On Deck!

Photo credit: David A. Lee Photography

Photo credit: David A. Lee Photography

Modernism Week’s signature February festival will take place February 16-26, 2017, highlighting midcentury modern architecture, art, interior and landscape design, and vintage culture in the Palm Springs area of Southern California. For the twelfth year, the annual 11-day festival will feature a wide array of events including the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale, tours of iconic homes in more than 25 neighborhoods including the Signature Home Tour on both weekends, architectural walking, biking and double-decker bus tours, a world-class series of film screenings and informative talks, tours of the historic Annenberg Estate at Sunnylands, a Palm Springs Walk of Stars dedication for John Lautner, the Modernism Week Show House: Christopher Kennedy Compound at Villa Golightly, classic cars, garden tours, a vintage travel trailer exhibition, nightly parties and a special series of talks about Mexico City Modern.  All events are open to the public and, as of this writing, tickets are still available at A portion of ticket proceeds benefit Modernism Week, a non profit organization, and other local preservation, neighborhood and community groups.

Photo credit: Darren Bradley Photography

Photo credit: Darren Bradley Photography

“Each year we continue to broaden the programming for Modernism Week based on the feedback of our attendees,” said Modernism Week Board Chairman, Chris Mobley. “This year, we will continue that trend by offering new events and educational opportunities while still featuring the beloved favorites that our audience requests. We will offer a compelling combination of educational talks and film screenings, exciting tours, and activities throughout the Coachella Valley and beyond.  Our returning Modernism Week supporters will be thrilled with the selection of appealing new programs.”

One of the highlights of the first weekend includes the annual Modernism Week Opening Night Party on Thursday, February 16, presented by Ferguson Kitchen, Bath & Lighting Gallery. This chic red carpet affair will incorporate a 60s-era spy movie-theme that pays homage to the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever” which features a famous scene filmed at the Elrod House in Palm Springs, designed by John Lautner, the 2017 Walk of Stars honoree.

Education outreach has always been a core element of Modernism Week programming, and this year that trend continues with a special series of talks and films on the topic of Mexico City Modern.  A series of four presentations will be conducted by leading luminaries on the subject, including Anne Rowe, Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, Keith Eggener, a professor of Architecture at University of Oregon and author of  “Luis Barragan’s Gardens of El Pedregal,” Luis M. Castenda, author of “ Spectacular Mexico – Design, Propaganda and the 1968 Olympics,” and Cristina Lopez Uribe, an architect and faculty member of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.  Following Modernism Week, a Mexico City Modern Tour produced by Modernism Week will visit the modernist residences and structures discussed during the presentation and many others.

Once again, Modernism Week will present a variety of film screenings, including the U.S. film premiere of “Harry Seidler – Modernist,” a new documentary by the producer of the current film “The Dressmaker” with Kate Winslet, and an Architecture Film Series featuring the West Coast premiere of “Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw The Future,” by his son, Eric Saarinen who, with his sister Susan Saarinen, will be attending.  Additional film screenings include the West Coast premiere of “Windshield – A Vanished Vision” that depicts the construction of and the story of the wealthy family who commissioned Richard Neutra to build a massive summer home on the Eastern Seaboard, “Claremont Modern: The Convergence of Art + Architecture at Midcentury,” and “Design for Modern Living: Millard Sheets and the Claremont Art Community.”

Other exciting educational and enlightening programs include presentations celebrating the photography of Slim Aarons and his work in Palm Springs, a presentation and new documentary film on the history of neon signs, presentations and visual displays examining the architecture of the Desert Modernists, and tours and talks about modern gardens and outdoor living.

Image: Jake Holt Photography

Image: Jake Holt Photography

CAMP, Modernism Week’s ‘Community and Meeting Place’ and headquarters for tours and events, will be located in a dynamic tented structure on Palm Canyon Drive near Baristo Road. Introduced in 2015 as a central location for attendees to meet, shop, dine, learn, and relax between tours and parties, CAMP will feature stimulating programs and opportunities to meet authors, designers, and other industry luminaries through a variety of planned activities. It is also the ticket hub for the daily Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour, and new for 2017, group rides on the all-new Sunny Cycle electric bike experience with special tours developed specifically for Modernism Week exploring architectural neighborhoods in downtown. Ferguson, Modernism Week’s exclusive Kitchen, Bath and Lighting Sponsor, will present entertaining culinary demonstrations in their state-of-the-art kitchen, popular drink mixology sessions explore retro-cocktail recipes, and Makerville will offer ‘Think and Drink’ cocktail hour events throughout the week, featuring two different “Modernism with a Twist” talks.

On Friday, February 17 the public is invited to attend a special dedication on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars for John Lautner, renowned architect of the iconic Bob Hope Estate and Elrod house in Palm Springs. The ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion at 300 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

Named by The Hollywood Reporter as the “#1 Must-See Event of Modernism Week,” Traditional Home and California Home + Design magazines present the Modernism Week Show House: The Christopher Kennedy Compound. For a fourth year, Kennedy will bring together nearly twenty of the nation’s most prominent tastemakers to create uniquely designed rooms in this decorator showcase. In an exciting twist for 2017, Christopher is partnering with lifestyle writer and social media sensation Kelly Lee (aka ‘Kelly Golightly’) and her photographer husband, Fred Moser, to renovate their spectacularly sited home in the Andreas Hills area of Palm Springs. The Show House will open with a Red Carpet Gala on February 18, offering cocktails, tastings, music, and an opportunity to mingle with television stars and international design and building leaders. Daily tours and many other exciting evening events will be offered throughout the week.

Image: Jake Holt Photography

Image: Jake Holt Photography

For the last few years, Modernism Week has offered attendees the opportunity to join home tours and architectural excursions outside of the immediate Palm Springs area.  This successful expansion continues in 2017 with home tours planned in surrounding desert cities including Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells, as well as the outer limits of the Coachella Valley in the high desert and as far west as Alta Loma for a tour of master woodworker Sam Maloof’s residence and studio, and to Claremont for a Claremont Modernism Tour. Back by popular demand is a party at the Museum of Pinball in Banning, rarely open to the public and one of the best-kept secrets of the midcentury modern revival. ‘Pinball Fever’ on February 25 will be an evening of partying in a midcentury modern atmosphere while enjoying unlimited free-play on more than 700 beautifully restored vintage arcade and pinball machines.

One of Modernism Week’s most highly anticipated events, the 17th annual Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale at the Palm Springs Convention Center (February 17-19) will feature 85 premier national and international dealers offering furniture, decorative and fine arts representing design movements of the 20th century. Produced by Dolphin Promotions, whose shows are among the leading venues for antiques and collectibles in North America, the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale will open with an Early Buying Preview Reception on February 17 to benefit Modernism Week.

Image: Jake Holt Photography

Image: Jake Holt Photography

Attendees will continue to experience a wide range of compelling architectural tours, specially curated for Modernism Week including various walking tours of Palm Springs, the ‘Charles Phoenix Super Duper Double Decker Bus Tour of Palm Springsland,’ Palm Desert Double Decker Architecture Bus Tours, a Celebrity Designers Home Tour, docent-led tours of Frank Sinatra’s “Twin Palms” Estate, the James L. Abernathy House, and the iconic Frey House II.

On February 19 and 20, Atomic Ranch will offer a panel discussion and tour of two homes centered around the theme “Restoring or Renovating your Midcentury Modern Home…Problems SOLVED!” Editor Sarah Jane Stone will lead a panel of experts in a seminar about the common problems midcentury modern homeowners face when purchasing a period home and embarking on home improvements. Following the seminar, participants will be able to tour two renovated homes where homeowners, contractors and other experts will be on hand to discuss the renovation experience and answer questions. The tours are self-guided, and both homes are located in Palm Springs a few minutes drive from CAMP.

About Modernism Week: 

Modernism Week is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, providing scholarships to local Palm Springs students pursuing college educations in the fields of architecture and design; as well as giving grants to local and state organizations for their efforts to preserve modernist architecture throughout the state of California.

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The pool at Colt’s Lodge

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