Appreciating Albert Frey at Palm Springs Modernism Week

After the wonderful time I had last October at the Palm Springs Modernism Week preview I was ready to completely dive in to this year’s festivities. I envisioned days in Palm Springs soaking up mid-century modern goodness. Then I got sick. Ugh. Luckily, I managed to miss this year’s flu bug but was still too ill to fully embrace Modernism Week. Instead, I focused on a few activities that I was able to enjoy including two wonderful celebrations of noted architect, Albert Frey.

Albert Frey was born in Switzerland in 1903 and displayed true design talent from an early age. After a brief stint with noted architect Le Corbusier in his early 20’s he decided to relocate to America. For several years he was based in New York until the lure of the west proved too strong. Sensing it was an area ripe for his innovative designs he relocated to California and created some of the desert’s most iconic structures including Frey House I & II, the Tramway gas station and the Salton Sea’s North Shore Yacht Club.

Recently, in Palm Springs, a 1966 tennis estate was restored by Thomboy Properties and I made sure to visit the “Hidden Frey.”

Located on the northern end of town it truly is a hidden gem. In fact, you can’t even see it from the road because it’s sunken below street level.

Because of this, the front yard has been turned into a tennis court – the perfect Palm Springs leisure activity.

The house features a separate guest wing complete with a bedroom and bath and a 2 bedroom main house. For the event Thomboy joined forces with artist Shawn Savage in the home’s decor.

I must admit it’s not quite my style (I’m a bit of a mid-century purist) but I relished the chance to step inside this unique Frey home.

To continue celebrating the legendary architect I headed to the Camelot Theatre to attend the premiere of the documentary “Albert Frey: Part 1 – The Architectural Envoy.”

This beautiful film, directed by Jake Gorst in collaboration with Design Onscreen, focused on Frey’s early years from his youth in Switzerland to his arrival in Palm Springs. With the aid of several noted historians we explored the evolution of his architectural style from the innovative Aluminaire House to his first Palm Springs commissions. I absolutely adored the film and found it to be a wonderful tribute to the master architect. I can’t wait until Part 2 and its focus on some of Frey’s most iconic works.

Despite being under the weather, I still had a great time at Palm Springs Modernism Week. Next year, I’d better not be sick so I can fully dive into all the fun activities.

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