Palm Springs’ Modernism Week: Scene and StylePalm Springs’ Modernism Week: Beyond the Architecture Palm Springs’ Modernism Week 2014 came to a close on February 23rd, but the last party wasn’t limited to only celebrating architecture, as designer Trina Turk offered the final lecture before the closing soiree in a manner that perfectly married style and estates. Inspired by the multicultural mix of architecture and landscape in Southern California, Turk’s style––and voice––was a natural fit in wrapping up the activities (at the Annenberg Estate, no less). However, Turk’s appearance wasn’t the only style vibes being given off this past week; if you didn’t attend, here’s what you missed.
MODERNISM WEEK MUST: SHOP[one_half]
[/one_half] [one_half_last] [/one_half_last] The most obvious spot to have done any P.S. shopping during Modernism Week was at the Modernism Week Show & Sale. Tightly curated, the space had pieces that were deemed the best of each showroom present. While it wasn’t limited to only mid-century modern dealers, the items were all easy to mix-and-match within that style realm. Take Neil Rasmussen’s exhibit, for example: his antiques blend modern design and American western influence. Based in Menlo Park, many of his pieces end up in the surrounding neighborhood of mid-century modern Eichler homes. Another favorite for furniture during Modernism Week was the Modernism Yard Sale. Held in the Paul Kaplan Group parking lot, the space attracted vendors selling everything from modern furniture to jewelry, and last year’s even boasted a 1960’s trailer––something the Kaplan Group knows a little about, as Matthew Reader, an agent, won best vintage camper for the 2014 Vintage Trailer Show. While art is present at the Modernism Week showroom and the yard sale, a larger selection housing Warhol’s, Dali’s, and artists that are more contemporary sits directly adjacent. Although technically not related to Modernism Week, the Palm Springs Fine Fair concurrently exhibits with the Modernism Week Show & Sale. They’re both in the Palm Springs Convention Center, maximizing your culture and, well, shopping experience. Not everything in Palm Springs’ Modernism Week was something saved from the mid-century, though. The Prefab Showcase and Modern Living Expo was an amalgam of architects’ and designers’ expert commentary morphed into an outdoor show space, more geared towards the incorporation of modern technology into your residence. Many of the products of the event were made to highlight green or smart technology, demo-ing ways you can modernize your current (or future) mid-century modern home.
MODERNISM WEEK MUST: MARTINIS (AND MORE)If you weren’t planning to rescue another piece of furniture, there were plenty of reasons to party during P.S. Modernism Week. Our insiders picked a favorite for this year’s event: the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation Retro Martini Party. Touted as one of the most refined soirees of Modernism Week, 2014’s PSPF event was held at the Walt & Lilly Disney Residence in Smoke Tree Ranch. Another event that quickly sold out was the Palm Springs’ Modernism Committee Annual Gala. Crafted around a Moroccan-motif, the party took place at the Bougain Villa, a residence that eventually became a collab between Modernism Week 2014’s honoree Hugh Kaptur, and the renowned Albert Frey. If you were staying and playing after dark, there were––and are––various P.S. events for every taste. Single-gal in your twenties? Peruse this guide. Looking to re-live the sixties? You should’ve been at the Purple Room’s Monterey Pop Fest. Supper club-meets-music, the Purple Room hosted events nearly every evening during this week’s gathering. In fact, remembering all of this has us already wanting to go back. Tell us, what were your favorite events? What are you already planning for next year?
The Insider’s Architecture Tour: Palm Springs’ Modernism WeekPalm Springs and mid-century modern-everything has basically become synonymous. The two are so inherently linked that Modernism Week, the celebration of architecture that defines this desert city, has become one of the best places to view––and buy––modern real estate. If it wasn’t already obvious to anyone that’s visited, Matthew Reader, agent at the modern architecture-niche agency, the Paul Kaplan Group, and 10-year Modernism Week veteran, sums up why this event pairs so perfectly with Palm Springs. “ The coloring of our natural environs lends to much of the shadow and light play within details of even lesser buildings,” he says. These details are what has made this year yet another success for the festival and the real estate. After all, as Reader says, “The buildings are impossible to ignore, even if you’re not a great aficionado of architecture.” But even those familiar with architecture can run into an obstacle navigating a city this dense with gems; so, here’s Reader’s insider picks for the best Palm Springs’ architecture of Modernism Week 2014:
PALM SPRINGS’ ARCHITECTURE INSIDER PICK 1: ALBERT FREY
“The private residence of Albert Frey is always a standout,” Reader says. “The location––on the mountainside behind the art museum––affords it spectacular views, and being built into the mountainside with the rock protruding into the home is an early example of the lines between Palm Springs indoor-outdoor living being blurred.” Frey has always been an iconic designer of Palm Springs, producing notable landmarks such as the Palm Springs’ City Hall and the Aerial Tramway, but this house is especially recognized for its small, compact space. “I love the built-in furnishings, and the hi-fi is a favorite…the efficient galley kitchen is another great feature of this love letter to compact living.”
PALM SPRINGS’ ARCHITECTURE INSIDER PICK 2: THE SIVA HOUSE
Another favorite of this year’s festival is the crown jewel, the 1959 Siva House. Also known as the Russell house, it was envisioned by Detroit-transplant Hugh Kaptur. The residence is truly emblematic of what we think of as mid-century design, in that its focus (like Frey’s), isn’t on what’s inside but rather the perfect marriage of both the indoor and outdoor space. Carved into a spot above Palisades road, the endless panels of glass look over the assorted Palm Springs landscape, with blocks of color mirroring the bright interiors: golf course, second homes, and mountains abound. The interiors were picked from the Palm Springs’ mid-century furniture scene: think Maloof end tables, a Hans Wegner daybed, and Nakashima barstools. While the current owner’s didn’t opt to stay exclusively in mid-century style for every option, the home was thoughtfully updated to stay considerably in-line with the selection of 1950s pieces. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if the owners of the Silva home exclusively shopped from the Modernism Week Show & Sale</> to outfit their home.
PALM SPRINGS’ ARCHITECTURE INSIDER PICK 3: THE LOST & SAVED[o[one_half][/one_half][one_half_last][/one_half_last] Reader also suggests visiting the Edris House, and even the sad, oft-maligned Town and Country Center. “It’s certainly one of the loveliest designs by A. Quincy Jones,” Reader says, “It’s really a disappointment that the owner does not take more of an interest in it or make it available to someone who cares.” This degradation of P.S. landmarks isn’t uncommon, unfortunately. While many lectures at Modernism Week touch on this subject, Gary John’s talk is the standout. “It’s one of the most eye-opening and informative presentations that I’ve see,” shares Reader, adding that it’s an event he makes a priority to attend each year. If it’s been tricky to get spots on many of the tours or watch the lectures, there are also resources to either get first draft (sign up as a Palm Springs Modernism Committee member) or download the newest Palm Springs architectural tour app. It details over 80 mid-century landmarks by location, or architect. This app is an important supplement to any Palm Springs’ trip, regardless of season, because like John’s lecture, it really touches on the triumphs (and disappointments) of preservation efforts in the city. While it is heartbreaking to read about the landmarks that have been destroyed by arson or simply a really horrible re-design, the degradation of some properties make the standout saved ones even brighter. Our favorites include the Tramway Gas Station and Fire Station No. 1, both rehabilitated landmarks in Palm Springs.
PALM SPRINGS’ ARCHITECTURE INSIDER PICK 4: GROW YOUR OWNPerhaps the easiest way to enjoy the architecture in Palm Springs is to do the obvious: get your own place. Palm Springs is the perfect second-home option, thanks to the year-round sunshine and ability to preserve key mid-century modern architecture. For purchasing, the usual suspects are always stand-outs (think Wexler/Harrison, Albert Frey, A. Quincy Johns, Stewart Williams, Palmer/Krisel), but options such as renovated Alexander Construction Co. residences are also a safe investment. Note that investing in modern real estate should always be done through an educated agent; many of these homes have been renovated and stripped down to the bolts, so it’s important that whichever piece you do chose to invest in strikes the right balance between modern and thoughtful updates. Now that Reader has shared his favorite architectural gems, tell us, which sites do you plan to visit (or have visited) during Modernism Week? We’d love to hear.
One of the most distinctive themes of mid century modern homes is the concept of inside/outside living. Atriums and courtyards help realize this idea by creating an ‘outdoor room’ full of natural light which is shared with the interior space through windows and glazed doors. It is well documented how levels of light can have a positive impact on our sense of wellbeing and this is one of the appealing aspects of living in a mid century modern home These outdoor rooms form a welcoming entrance with roof openings providing natural light that bounces from surface to surface. On a functional level, it also works as a buffer between the street and house, from the noise of the outside world to the order of home. The atrium is a hallmark of an Eichler home and one of the most attractive features of an Eichler or, indeed, any mid century modern bungalow. Although not always at the center of the home in true ‘atrium’ style this space is also to be found at the front of the building as a bright and spacious courtyard leading to the front door. How we treat this courtyard is very personal to our lifestyle but used well this light and airy space can enrich our day to day lives and, ultimately, our quality of life. It is easy to make a feature of this architectural detail. Here are a few treatments worth considering.
1. Planting & SculpturePlanting is one of the easiest ways to link the exterior with the interior. Succulents and grasses provide structure and interest with color, reflection and shadow. Planting also helps to soften hard surfaces and provide contrast. A sculpture or piece of art that you enjoy creates a focal point particularly where the living areas surround an internal atrium.
2. Color & MaterialLight colors on walls and ceilings bounce light around the space and provide natural interior light through glazed walls. The front door is often the only feature that offers a pop of color. Although Eichler’s choice of colors were slightly muddier tones, modern trends are towards funkier oranges, greens and yellows. Introducing color to the space by painting one isolated area to match the door color will create unity while continuing the color through to an interior wall will create an illusion of depth. Tongue and groove exterior cladding and mahogany interior cladding were popular mid century materials. Tastes have evolved and we now tend to opt for a paler palette. Wood finishes can still be included by cladding a smaller area or by incorporating wooden outdoor furniture or planters.
3. FlooringFlooring will easily unite the exterior with the interior. Concrete and ceramic tile is a practical finish and works well to provide continuity between outside and inside rooms. There is a strong trend for wood flooring on interior floors so using a similar tone of wood on cladding, planters or furniture can help capture that same visual link.
4. Furniture & AccessoriesWhether you are the mid century purist for whom nothing but an original Nelson bench will do or you are the young family whose mantra is IKEA practicality, choose furniture that is functional and free of unnecessary detailing. Typically, mid century accessories such as light fixtures, door furniture and house numbers are simple, geometric shapes focused on functionality.
Whether your outdoor room be a dwelling space for relaxing or the threshold where the kids kick off their shoes, enjoy it. Feel uplifted by it. Live in it.
You don’t usually think of Joseph Eichler as an iconoclast, but in a relatively short time, he broke the mold of residential housing with homes that incorporated innovation into mass production, preserved privacy in the midst of glass walls, and challenged the idea that indoors and outdoors were not the same thing with atriums that blended the two. Eichler built 11,000 homes in California between the late 1940s and the mid 1960s, and three of his tracts are in Orange: Fairhaven in southeast Orange, west of Esplanade Street and north of Fairhaven Avenue; Fairhills in east Orange, south of Katella Avenue and east of Hewes Street; and Fairmeadow crossing Cambridge Street north of Taft Avenue. Today Eichlers are quintessential mid-century modern architecture made affordable to the middle class through the combination of the aesthetic sensibilities of contemporary architects and the practicality of builders with strong concepts rooted in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Bauhaus design.
The atrium just inside the front door is a surprise that delineates the difference between stark and spare. It can be set up as a small patio, a Zen garden, a field of raked pebbles, a waterfall or a continuation of the backyard ambiance set in motion by the rippling water of a swimming pool. There is magic in the transparency of glass. It brings serenity out of turmoil and spaciousness out of the claustrophobic. It is the very heart of mid-century innovation. It opens up the structure, brings the indoors out and lets the outside in. It creates a framework for rich wood, for sturdy brick and for the understated strength of crossbeams. Joseph Eichler built homes that were made for living and he infused his tracts with a sense of community that continues today in the neighborhoods where the homes have been preserved. They are treasured reminders that life is all around us and all we need to do is step right out through the sliding glass door to become a part of it.
In this month's issue of OC Home, they profiled some of our favorite clients and one of our favorite Eichler homes in Orange. You can see some of the photos of the article or read the full article here. OC Home - "Still Modern after all these Years"
A survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) revealed 64% of architecture firms report that their clients express an increased interest in outdoor living spaces. Although Americans may be spending less and less time outside, they still need proximity to a green and living world. Eichlers, with their glass walls and atriums, satisfy this need handily. Although a few Eichlers exist in New York, developer Joseph Eichler built designs primarily for California and hired architects that believed in integrating the home into the surrounding environment. While floor plans of Eichlers may differ, they contain common elements that expressed Eichler’s desire to bring sunny California climes into his homes.
The magic of an Eichler is that all these elements combine with a closed front to make the outdoors yours. The closed front of the house gives the sense that the external concerns are far away. You go home to an enchanted world that opens outside, but leaves unwanted problems on the front curb. In that sense, Eichler created an charmed world for young families of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s to grow up. While some other modernist approaches often feel cold, Eichler’s emphasis on bringing the outside in creates feelings of expansion, warmth, and growth. The wisdom of that approach is reflected in their enduring appeal and enhanced value. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have, or if you are looking for the perfect Eichler Home for you! Contact us Article written by our contributing writer: Megan Winkler
Eichler Fairhaven Floor Plan #LJ-115/R (Jones/Emmons) LJ-115 has proven to be very popular with larger families – or at least with the parents! The master suite and (much needed) retreat are located on one side of the home, with the three bedrooms at the opposite end for maximum isolation. 2100 sq feet (living area) 553 (atrium) 330 sq feet (carport) 237 sq feet (garage) 4 Bedrooms/2 Baths 14 homes in the Fairhaven tract use this plan
The past few weeks we have stumbled upon so many incredible Mid Century Modern gingerbread houses online. So how could we not make our own "Eichlerbread House'? For our Eichler Gingerbread house, we chose to build our own interpretation of this Claude Oakland & Associates Eichler. One of our favorite Mid Century Modern gingerbread houses we came across online can be found here at ohhappyday.com. This post includes full directions and a printable template to make it easier for you to make your very own. Retrorenovation.com has a great article about vintage "Putz Houses" and also includes great printable templates. We see no reason why these same Putz templates couldn't be used to make a gingerbread house. The candy Noguchi table in this house is so clever we had to share that as well! Edible atriums, frosting dotted transoms and candy cane beams were a must. This "Eichlerbread House" ended up being some 30+ pieces. Planning, baking, assembling and keeping all them sorted was quite a process. We hope our EichlerBread House inspires you to make one of your own! If you do, please send us pictures; we would love to see it! We hope you have a fantastic Holiday!