finn kappe palm springs

Awestruck Architecture

The one and only Ray Kappe-designed home in Palm Springs was celebrated with tours and a Q&A with his son, Finn, who oversaw its construction.

JIM POWERS Current Digital, Social Scene

finn kappe palm springs

Finn Kappe (left) shares a laugh with Hernan Diaz Alonso, director of SCI-ARC Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, during a May 27 Q&A at the Ray Kappe house in Palm Springs.

From the moment they drove into the Desert Palisades development in Palm Springs, Finn Kappe says he and his late father Ray were immediately struck by the view, the sense of the mountains, and the feeling of this alluvial plain looking down on the valley.

When the Ray Kappe house was completed earlier this year, Finn Kappe saw some of those same feelings through the eyes of guests touring the house during a special event May 27 sponsored by Palm Springs Life.

“I hope you all had a little smile on your face,” Finn Kappe said. “That you felt good. You might have felt calm. You might have felt this was a nice place and you weren’t in a hurry to leave. That’s the goal for a residential setting. That’s a really important thing to have.”


Guests including Joan and Gary Gand (seated in the front) had a chance to ask Finn Kappe (far right) about the design of his late father's only Palm Springs-designed home.

During a Q&A session at the house designed by his late father, Finn Kappe talked about the building of his father’s one and only design in Palm Springs with Hernan Diaz Alonso, director of SCI-ARC Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. Like other architectural works his father is celebrated for, Finn Kappe says Ray’s design in Palm Springs “never lost its humanism.”

“I think it’s because of the love of the outside,” he added. “You are always trying to relate to the landscape that’s to the outside. How you can open up to the long view, and close when you want more privacy or protection from the sun.”

Following his passing, Finn says he and those close to Ray began to refer to him as a sensualist. “This is a naturalist who has very great, deep sensitivity to the natural environment, and that is a very interesting combination for such a bold architect to have,” Finn said.

Attendees were invited to tour the home after the Q&A, and also walk through another home in the development by architect Sean Lockyer. Tours were offered of both homes May 28-29.


Finn Kappe and Hernan Diaz Alonso speak to the details of Ray Kappe's design.

Both homes harken back to when the midcentury modernism style first emerged in the 1950s and celebrated the indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

“This was a postwar experience especially in Southern California, an optimistic one,” Finn said. “After the war, it feels safe, you can open up to the outside, to the garden, to the landscape, and so on. That idea has not gone away. And it’s a very beautiful idea. Even now, this last experience we’ve been going through with Covid, being outside was still a safer place to be. That’s the kind of thing that never hopefully goes way, that we can maintain the environment, and keep it a better place to be.”

• READ NEXT: Sean Lockyer Designs Modern Home in San Jacinto Foothills.