Palm Springs Modernism Week Highlights

Palm trees, colorful doors, poolside cocktails, and mid-mod madness can only signal one thing – the return of Modernism Week! Having just wrapped up its 15th-annual festival, design aficionados descended upon Palm Springs for over 350 events dedicated to mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture. Check out our 10 favorite moments below!

Words: Peter Scher

A newly completed residence in the historic Seven Lakes community opened its doors following a thoughtful renovation by architecture and interior design studio FORMARCH. Originally designed by local architect Richard A. Harrison in the early 1960’s, this single-story home has been reimagined as a homage to Italian modernist design with original international artwork and custom furniture.

Architectural aficionados of Herbert Burns’ trademark work in several apartment hotels such as the Hideaway, Holiday House, and the Orbit In were treated to a tour of this year’s Showcase Home: The Gillman Residence. Expertly restored by Thomboy Properties, the Little Tuscany house features furniture from Room & Board, fixtures from Ferguson Showrooms, and even a stunning blue-hued bathroom from Dunn-Edwards.

The LivingHome 10 by Plant Prefab was a hit at this year’s CAMP. This fully-customizable accessory dwelling unit (ADU) was designed to maximize living space and energy-efficiency. Installed in only a day, this 496-square-foot abode features smart home technology and a striking contemporary design with a variety of finishes and fixtures to choose from.

The Miles C. Bates House made plenty of waves at this year’s festivities. This stunning Palm Desert home, built in 1955 by Walter S. White and restored by Stayner Architects, features his signature curvilinear roof made from wooden dowels that hover over concrete block and glass walls.

Internationally-acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, known locally for his extension to the Denver Art Museum, gave the Modernism Week 2020 keynote presentation to a packed auditorium. Libeskind shared the incredible story of his architectural journey as documented in his book, “Edge of Order.”

Speaking of the Denver Art Museum, those who attended the museum’s “Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America” exhibit last year will surely recognize the work of Alexander Girard. A special exhibition on the seminal designer’s legacy was staged at the Palm Springs Art Museum for this year’s Marvin Conversation Series with author and designer Todd Oldham.

“The Atomic Age Tablescapes: An Exhibit of Delicious Dinnerware from 1955” delighted visitors with a dozen different patterns of notable mid-century modern dinnerware. Displays featured advertisements and décor from the era and included work from designers such as Raymond Loewy and Viktor Schreckengost.

Artist Danny Heller hosted a lecture series celebrating the work of famed architect John Lautner. An apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, Lautner designed the Desert Hot Springs Hotel in 1947. The residential fourplex now operates as a trio of boutique properties known as the Lautner Compound.


Debuting this year was the breathtaking Guggenheim House renovated by Michael Ostrow of Grace Home Furnishings. Named in honor of the legendary Gigi Guggenheim, the 1967 architectural gem has been lovingly renovated and features a blend of contemporary furniture and vintage treasures amidst a bold color palette. This Indian Canyons fixture has been home to many notable figures over the years, including Frank Sinatra and Walt Disney.


Mesa Modern showcased the best of midcentury modern-inspired contemporary architecture with its collaboration with interior designer Michelle Boudreau and Juniper House. This newly-constructed home is the epitome of indoor / outdoor living with tons of natural light, modern furniture and fixtures,  and sublime outdoor areas created by landscape architect John Feldman of Ecocentrix.