Palm Springs Modernism Week Fall Preview 2021
Palm Springs Modernism Week has long been one of my favorite local events but, due to the pandemic, it has been virtual for the past year and as much as I enjoy the online presentations I certainly miss spending time in the desert. Thankfully, in person events resumed for Modernism Week Fall Preview 2021 and I was lucky enough to be invited to attend.
Due to the pandemic this year’s fall preview offered a condensed program but I still managed to fill my day with mid-mod adventures. Each year Modernism Week showcases featured homes in which the owners and various designers collaborate to highlight the latest design trends with a mid-century flair and I started the day touring three of them. My first stop was Limón, one of the more unique properties I’ve visited in the area.
Limón is unique because it’s actually not a home but a hotel. Previously an apartment complex, the site has been converted to a seven room hotel that can only be booked whole. That’s right, you’ll need to rent the entire property in order to stay there. Wouldn’t it be cool to invite your entire family or a large group of friends to enjoy your own private oasis in the desert? Set to open in the near future Limón is sure to be the ultimate area getaway.
I then headed to the Seventies Sackley – a private home built in 1975 by architect Stan Sackley. I must admit it’s harder for me to appreciate 1970’s design than the 2 decades previous but I certainly enjoyed viewing the luxe, aqua and emerald twist on the era.
After spending some time in the 70’s, I headed back in time to view the 1956 Sunburst Palms. Another private residence, it was recently purchased from the original family and retains much of its original features.
I must admit, this was my favorite property to view as it was the perfect blending of past and present. I adored the original features and found the modern elements to wonderfully compliment them.
Of course not all mid-century design is relegated to the home. The automobiles of the era also were very design forward and there were several on display at Casual Concours XII.
Though this was my first time attending, Casual Concours has long been a staple of Modernism Week. Presented by the Great Autos car club, it featured hundreds of automobiles from every era parked on the great lawn of Desert Princess Country Club in Cathedral City.
Although the temperature was climbing it was a beautiful day to be outdoors admiring the array of cars so lovingly preserved by their owners. I had a wonderful time walking down the rows and choosing which car I’d love to own.
As the sun reached its peak I decided to head to one last event. Long have I desired to view Frey House II, a cliff-side home perched above downtown Palm Springs. In past years I wasn’t able to fit it in my schedule but if the pandemic has taught me one thing it’s not to put things off and this year I decided to finally visit.
Frey House II was designed and built by famed architect Albert Frey. Completed in 1964, it was then the highest home in the area and offered him an unparalleled view of the valley below. He occupied the house until his death in 1998 and then willed it to the Palm Springs Art Museum, which remains its caretaker to this day.
Modernism Week is one of the few times it’s open to the public and visiting is a rare treat indeed. Preserved just as it was when Frey occupied it it’s a true mid-century masterpiece.
Prior to its construction, Frey sat on the drive and watched the lot for a year studying the position of the sun. As such the home is located in the perfect position to appreciate the natural world. In fact, he was so concerned with the home adapting to its natural surroundings that he incorporated them into it and the most prominent feature of the home is the boulder it’s built around.
At only 800 square feet no area of the home is wasted and it’s the ultimate example of efficiency. I wish more builders would have this mindset rather than everything needing to be bigger and better. As they say, “less is more.” I adored visiting Frey II and am so happy to finally be able to cross it off my “must see” list.
After more than a year away I’m so glad to have returned to Palm Springs for the Modernism Week Fall Preview 2021. If this year’s activities are any indication, Modernism Week 2022 is sure to be a fabulous occasion. I can’t wait until February.