Pret-a-Reporter

Midnight at the Oasis: Modernism Week in Palm Springs Celebrates 10 Years

From left: Salvador Camarena, Christopher Kennedy and E! personality Ross Matthews

The ten-day extravaganza celebrating design and architecture runs through Feb. 22.

Modernism Week kicked off this past weekend in Palm Springs with a flurry of parties, bus and bike tours, exhibitions and talks in the desert resort town. Celebrating its tenth year, Modernism Week — a ten-day celebration running through Feb. 22 of modern design and architecture — has become a colorful umbrella with a large and vibrant shade, attracting designers, architects and mid-century geeks from around the world.

Designer Christopher Kennedy hosted a show house for the second consecutive year as a fundraiser for Modernism Week, which is a 501c3 non-profit raising money for architectural preservation and education. The open-air mid-century house in South Palm Springs looks out over a golf course at the base of the San Jacinto mountains. It features rooms refashioned by noted designers from around the country, including Michael Berman, Tabitha Evans, Trip Haenish, Nancy Price, and Michael Ostrow and Roger Stoker with Grace Home.

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At the red carpet opening of the show house Friday night, Feb. 13, Kennedy said he was inspired to create the house because "People kept asking ‘Why isn’t there a show house in Palm Springs?’ since almost every big city has one. So last year I bought the house and called my very talented, famous friends from around the country to do rooms. I didn’t think they would all say yes and they did! Last year, we raised almost $100K for the organization. I also wanted to re-establish Palm Springs as a place where great design ideas are born." The house is available for viewing Thursday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 22nd. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at modernismweek.com.

Asked about how the entertainment industry has impacted the Palm Springs legacy, Kennedy said, "The Hollywood history of Palm Springs infuses all the projects and the products that I design. I love looking at the old pictures of people laying by the pool and playing tennis. These people were beautiful and glamorous and they were on vacation. And for some of them, like Rock Hudson, this was the only place where they were truly themselves and they lived their lives honestly away from the camera. For me that idea of beauty and glamour combined with realness and easiness created an elixir that permeates PS to this day."

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The anchor of the week is the Palm Springs Modernism Show and Sale, which celebrated its fifteenth year with 85 vendors exhibiting vintage furniture and design objects and ran over the course of last weekend at the Convention Center. But most of the action at Modernism Week is fittingly outside of it, echoing the lifestyle celebrated in Palm Springs. A series of architectural tours with names like "Golden Era Hollywood Homes" or "Rat Pack Playground: Vista Las Palmas Walking Tour" continues through the week as retro architectural version of the notorious Starline tours. In the evening, a brilliant and free self-guided tour called Illuminated Modern will enlighten visitors to the modern architecture of the resort city. Select buildings along Palm Canyon are lit with projections detailing the name of the architects and the dates for the structures. 

Modernism Week continues through Sunday, Feb. 22. For more information and event tickets, visit modernismweek.com.

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