Editor's Letter

When Love Comes Knocking

In the month when we express our love for each other in decadent and indulgent style — with gifts that drip chocolate or diamonds (or both) — we turn our attention to a simpler treasure: the modern architecture that captures our imagination each time we pass a sweet, butterfly-roofed Alexander house or angular structures by legendary architects such as John Lautner, E. Stewart Williams, Donald Wexler, Albert Frey, William Krisel and Dan Palmer, William Cody, and others.

This month — our annual Modernism Issue — we celebrate three masters of modernism: Krisel, Charles Hollis Jones, and Karl Benjamin. Each has had a foundational impact on modern design, and each has earned a soft spot in the hearts of enthusiasts of the hard-edge, minimalist Modern aesthetic.

Morris Newman, a contributing architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times and other publications, catches up with Krisel in “The Butterfly Effect” and Hollis Jones in “Now Clear This!,” and I report from Benjamin’s home in Claremont for “The Accidental Modernist.”

Meanwhile, writer Allison Engel revisits John Lautner’s iconic Elrod House (“Daring Design,”) and explores the architect’s determination “to humanize the spaces of the built world and create an endlessly varied organic poetry,” as Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum, eloquently encapsulated Lautner’s vision in the book that accompanied his retrospective exhibition at the Los Angeles museum last summer.

In “Modern Love,” Deputy Editor Janice Kleinschmidt introduces a couple who came to a Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale, heard about Palm Springs Modern Tours, and eventually bought a classic 1955 A-frame designed by Charles Dubois.

Our love of modernism triggered our curiosity: How does modern design fare as an investment? In “Modernism as an Investment,” personal finance columnist Ellen Paris suggests that buying or selling a house by a premier modern architect requires special attention and expertise. “Noted architecture is still a good value when compared to fine art,” Crosby Doe of architectureforsale. com told Palm Springs Life. An authority on marketing architecturally significant houses, Doe has the listing for Neutra’s Kaufmann House, which fell through at auction last May.

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