modernism week

Go Mod or Go Home

Modernism Week returns to Palm Springs Feb. 16–26, featuring 
more than 300 architecture, design, and cultural events.

Lisa Marie Hart Attractions, Modernism

modernism week
This year’s double-decker bus tour goes beyond Palm Springs to Joshua Tree, Alta Loma, and Claremont, Calif.

A possible theme of Modernism Week 2017 could be — more modernism! The celebration of midcentury architect John Lautner puts a spotlight on the enigmatic man behind the Bob Hope estate and the Elrod House (where Sean Connery and two gymnastic Bond girls immortalized the living room in Diamonds Are Forever).

This year’s program also underscores preservation and restoration, featuring a panel discussion by Atomic Ranch Editor Sarah Jane Stone, as well as expert-led presentations and Q&A sessions.

Like spirituality and politics, the annual pageant for the modernist lifestyle means different things to different folks: Whether you’re looking to be educated and inspired or you just want to slip on a Mr. Turk ensemble and throw back a few martinis while mingling with the design community, you’ll be welcome.

The pillars of the phenomenon that attracted 77,500 attendees from 14 different countries last year are all here: The big Modernism Show & Sale; home and garden tours; film screenings; compelling lectures and presentations; twilight parties; a vintage travel trailer exhibition; and more.

One hot new addition is a series on Mexico City Modern. (Later this spring, a trip produced by Modernism Week will voyage to the capital’s modernist gems.) On the film circuit, catch the West Coast premiere of Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future (produced by his son, Eric Saarinen, who will be in attendance). Also new this year is a limited number of VIP lecture and film passes, which give you access to 30 lectures and six premium events for less than $500. Poolside Gossip fans will want to pick up a signed copy of the new book Slim Aarons Women, by Laura Hawks.

Night owls will feast on this year’s soirees, when esteemed landmarks and swanky estates open their doors for elite gatherings under the stars. Opened last summer, the restored Coachella Savings & Loan building — built by 
E. Stewart Williams and now known as The Bank — hosts the opening-night bash with a 1960s spy movie theme.

Designed by E. Stewart Williams as Coachella Savings and Loan II, this stunning midcentury building now houses Chase Bank.

Some parties are free (SHAG will host two at its Uptown gallery), while others are ticketed or road-trip excursions. Pinball Fever at the rarely open Museum of Pinball in Banning returns for guests to test their wizardry on 700 beautifully restored machines.

First-timers can get a modernism overview atop a double-decker tour bus (this year, see neighborhoods throughout Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and as far as Joshua Tree and Claremont). Special guest lectures and eventscombine education and entertainment. They include a visual presentation by historian and Neon Cruises guide Eric Lynxwiler, a preview of the new Desert X art exhibition with an artist panel, and talks about horticultural pioneers and modernism in Michigan, Connecticut, and the Soviet Union.

Maxed out on spending but not on modernism? There are also plenty of free events, including Modernsim Week CAMP (community and meeting place) activities, a vintage car show at the Palm Springs Convention Center, walking tours, and public lectures.

Before you buy tickets, consider your interests, energy level and budget — and factor in time for traffic, parking, and walking. And always plan your wardrobe in advance.

Buy, Buy Love

At the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale (Feb. 17–20), Modernism Week’s largest retail therapy event, enthusiasts and collectors come to lust, touch, buy, and repeat. And then tote bragging rights at the evening cocktail party.

Local, national, and international dealers style their booths with their best wares under one roof at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Spanning the most decorative eras of the 20th century, the dizzying mix of textiles, artwork, furniture, collectibles, and novelties leans heavily toward the midcentury modern era. Organizers tell the tale of the New York vendor who sold an entire tableau to one customer — who had flown in from New York.

The storied event even warrants its own Preview Party. On Friday, Feb. 17, enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres, along with a sneak peek and early shopping pass. Tickets ($75 in advance; $95 at the door) include daily return admission to the sale, which ends Monday. Weekend admission is $20.