frank sinatra twin palms

Modernists Unite!

Design buffs will enjoy a heap of eye candy and revelry at Modernism Week 2022.

Steven Biller Attractions, Current Digital, Modernism

frank sinatra twin palms

Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate.

An 18-hole golf scramble, a keynote speaker whose work has broken the glass ceiling for female architects, an exclusive tour of Queer Eye interior designer Bobby Berk’s Palm Desert estate, and programming that celebrates Black History Month are among the new events joining the robust Modernism Week 2022 schedule from Feb. 17 to 27.

For the first time during the event, visitors can tour Palm Desert’s Shadow Mountain area (with homes by Albert Frey Frey, William Krisel, and Walter White), eclectic midcentury homes in Magnesia Falls Cove in Rancho Mirage, the 1960s boutique community Calypso Palms in Palm Springs, and “hidden gems” of Indian Wells, including the fully restored Crank-Garland House, aka “The Lost Cody,” originally designed for Filmore Crank and actress Beverly Garland by William F. Cody. Finally, the showcase home tour features the Spanish-style Casa Tierra in Palm Desert.

Returning favorites include the Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tours, the Modernism Show & Sale (first weekend), the Vintage Travel Trailer Show (second weekend), and tours of Sunnylands, Frey House II, and iconic homes formerly owned by Frank Sinatra, William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and Magda Gabor. The schedule also includes a classic car show, garden tours, fashion-related events, walking and biking tours, and a series of talks, including a Feb. 19 keynote presentation by architect Jeanne Gang, whose new, 101-story St. Regis tower in Chicago is the world’s tallest building designed by a woman.

Modernism Week 2022 marks Black History Month on Feb. 21 with “Stories Untold: Black Modernists in Southern California,” a three-part panel discussion about historic Palm Springs landmarks, the role Paul R. Williams played in inspiring other Black designers, and a proposed open-air art gallery and park in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District.

Other talks feature Charles Phoenix (Feb. 19), MAD Architects (Feb. 20–21), Josh Agle, aka SHAG (Feb. 20), and Alan Hess (Feb. 26).

Parties are back, too. Among the most popular are the opening-night party, “Love, Modernism Style” (Feb. 17), at the Indian Canyons Golf Resort clubhouse; the Modernism Show & Sale preview party (Feb. 18) at the Palm Springs Convention Center, and “Saturday Night at the Sinatra Estate” (Feb. 19). The estate, designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1947, also hosts “A Party at Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate Celebrating Gene Kelly Through Dance” (Feb. 26), in partnership with Nickerson-Rossi Dance and Palm Springs International Dance Festival. There will be more fun at the Retro Martini Party (Feb. 25) at the Ware Estate and The Jet Set gala benefit for Palm Springs Modern Committee (Feb. 19) at the William Cody-designed Abernathy Residence.

Modernism Week 2022 CAMP (“Community And Meeting Place”), located at the Hyatt Hotel on Palm Canyon in downtown Palm Springs, offers a hub with an information desk, box office, theater merchandise, and activations by Modernism Week sponsors. CAMP will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

more to see

Rocking Shell Chair (circa 1950)  by Charles and Ray Eames.

The Modern Chair
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center

Through April 3, 2022  / The Modern Chair features 60 eye-popping and comfy-looking specimens following the evolution of the chair over more than 100 years. The exhibition begins with two early examples — a Thonet B-9 armchair created in 1904 and the first cantilevered chair created by Mart Stam — and continues through the fertile and innovative midcentury years and concludes with contemporary designs.

Entries include Charles and Ray Eames’ molded plywood Side Chair (model DCW), which Time magazine named as the best design of the 20th century, as well as Eero Saarinen’s single-legged Tulip Chair, which eliminated the so-called “slum of legs,” and Verner Panton’s S-shaped Panton Chair, the world’s first molded plastic chair designed in one piece without legs. Terje Ekström offers one of the most unusual forms in the playful and ergonomic Ekstrem armchair, while materiality distinguishes Frank Gehry’s Beaver Chair and Ottoman and Tokujin Yoshioka’s Honey-pop Chair. A few chairs might even ring familiar to visitors, including Eames’ classic 670 and 671 Lounge and Ottoman, Harry Bertoia’s Welded Wire Side Chair, and Marcel Breuer’s reductive Wassily Chair. The exhibition also features a section focused on California design that includes chairs by William Haines, Miller Lee Fong, and others. The Modern Chair makes no attempt to be comprehensive. “So much of design is cyclical and transitory,” curator Brad Dunning says, “but a lot of the chairs that we’re showing are in the design zeitgeist now. There’s interest in them again.”

Frey House II

Frey II House Tour

Feb. 17–27  /  During Modernism Week 2022, Palm Springs Art Museum will offer tours of the Frey House II, the longtime hillside residence of architect Albert Frey. When it was built in 1964, the 800-square-foot glass and steel house — perched on the side of Mount San Jacinto — was at the highest elevation of any residence in the city. It enjoys views of the Coachella Valley, and a large boulder famously protrudes into the house, dividing the bedroom and living room and underscoring Frey’s interest in nature. Outside, the swimming pool and deck serve as the roof of the carport. Inside, the upper level features a dining/work table and bathroom, while the lower level includes a sitting area, master bedroom, and kitchen. Frey added a 300-square-foot guest bedroom in 1967, matching the curtains to the yellow encilia flowers that bloom each spring in the desert. As a bonus for visitors, tour tickets are also good for free admission to the Palm Springs Art Museum and the museum’s nearby Architecture and Design Center, where The Modern Chair exhibition is on view.

Modern Rancho Mirage

Ongoing  / Architecture and design buffs can now visit more than 50 homes, communities, and sites of historic and architectural interest in Rancho Mirage. The nonprofit Preservation Mirage has published its architecture map to guide residents and visitors to architecture that can be easily located and seen from the street. Gated communities that contain significant architecture, such as Thunderbird Heights, are also indicated. “The map is designed to be a useful and informative tool,” says founder and president Melissa Riche, “but it’s also a crucial step toward our goal to treasure and preserve important architecture and to help people better understand what they sometimes take for granted.” The Preservation Mirage Architecture Map is available for download for $5.