I’ve loved design and architecture for the whole of my adult life. While a Fine Art major in college years ago, I had considered studying design instead of scientific illustration (I ended up with a degree in Literature and Writing in the end…go figure..)
There are many different types of architectural design I like, but none so dear to my heart as Midcentury Modern – Desert Modernism to be specific. Brought on by a mixture of both the International style and Bauhaus Movement, each building has function, style and a grace that makes my heart go pitter patter.
There is nowhere else in the world you can find more mid-century marvels than in Palm Springs, California. Recently the Art Museum of Palm Springs (a fantastic place to visit if given the opportunity) opened the Architecture and Design Center in the historic Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan building designed by renowned modern architect E. Stewart Williams.
Palm Springs itself (one of my favorite places to visit in the United States) has managed to keep its Hollywood flare. It wasn’t a place stars like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the likes went to bask on the beaches. It’s where they went to have dinner parties, lounge by private swimming pools like desert lizards. It’s where the cocktail hour was serious business…and still is.
I’ll not forget the residents of today though. They are as contemporary and modern as the architecture itself and I adore their flamboyancy. I’ll write about them in another post though. This post is strictly architecture and design.
I was salivating at the idea of the new museum so naturally this week I headed to Palm Springs.
Being a small city, I was able to walk to most places although I did rent a bike (a lovely city cruiser with a basket and bell) for three house early in the morning. This helped me cover more ground on my tour of homes. It was a sunny 75 degree and not a cloud in the sky. I had headed into the neighborhoods and downtown. I had wanted to view my favorite house – The Kaufmann Desert House. The Frey House II (designed by Albert Frey, another favorite of mine) sits on a hillside and is private so I was unable to see one of my other great loves..but oh well.
After my long ride, I showered, changed and set out on foot to the museum. First I stopped by the Art Museum to do some Christmas Shopping and see the exhibits. I then headed to The Architecture and Design Museum – saving the best for last.
It was quiet inside as it was mid-day and everyone else was having lunch or just waking from the last nights partying (they party a lot there.)
I was in heaven. The current exhibit, An Eloquent Modernist: E. Stewart Williams, Architect, showcases Williams’, as well as his sons, dedication to both good city planning and even better modern architecture.
I could go on and on here and I can’t recommend the exhibit enough. So for anyone interested, you can find more information at http://www.psmuseum.org/architecture-design-center/
With regards to my favorite Kaufmann Desert House, I was hoping the house, designed by Richard Neutra (http://www.ncmodernist.org/neutra.htm) would be open to the public in February during Modernism Week (February 12-22nd) but I believe it wont be (insert sad face here.) I will, however, be viewing the Frey House II (insert happy face here.)
Below are a few photos I took while on my cruiser. I’ve chosen not to convert them to black and white as I believe the desert colors are quite lovely. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.
-Frank Lloyd Wright