Midcentury madness, dreamy design and sun-soaked structures take center stage at this incredible annual event in Palm Springs, California.
January 3, 2023
Modernism Week is an annual festival held in Palm Springs, California, celebrating midcentury modern architecture, design, and culture. It aims to foster an appreciation for Palm Springs’ rich architectural and design history. This year’s Modernism Week takes place from February 16 – 26. It offers a range of events and activities that showcase the best of midcentury modern design. If you’re visiting Palm Springs during Modernism Week, this is your can’t-miss guide to speakers, tours, and where to lounge in style.
View all Modernism Week events here.
Tour, Talk, Play, Stay: Modernism Week 2023
Buy tickets for tours here.
Architectural home tours are a highlight of Modernism Week. The immersive tours range from walking tours to bike rides to bus tours. These unique tours present the opportunity to explore some of Palm Springs’ most iconic midcentury modern homes.
Take a look at some of these home tours that are well worth a visit:
Frey House II tour + Museum Day Passes
Designed by visionary architect Albert Frey, Frey House II was called “crazy” by the Palm Springs City Hall before it was ultimately approved and completed in 1964. From glass walls showcasing breathtaking desert views to the carport hidden beneath the swimming pool, Frey House II’s astounding design is a must-see for every design enthusiast.
Bella da Ball’s Celebrity Homes Bus Tour
Palm Springs’ social ambassador and local drag emcee, Bella da Ball, guides this fun sunset tour. This entertainment-focused tour is a great way to peek at the homes and hangouts of celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Elivs.
House of Tomorrow Home Tour
The recently renovated Alexander Estate, known as the House of Tomorrow is a midcentury marvel with a fascinating celebrity pedigree. Walk through the legendary home where Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned in 1967. We recommend tickets to the twilight tour!
Tamarisk Neighborhood Walking Tour
This walking tour covers the neighborhood Tamarisk and its iconic, oft-Instagrammed midcentury homes.
James Logan Abernathy Residence Tour
The Palm Springs Preservation Foundation leads this incredible tour of the stunning James Logan Abernathy Residence, designed in 1962 by modernist architect William F. Cody.
Modern Garden Tour
Experience the modern aesthetic of drought-tolerant and desert-friendly plants while touring the exquisitely designed Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium. The tour takes you through various gardens, from minimal to lush, all using modern materials and plantings.
Buy tickets for talks here.
In addition to stunning architectural home tours, Modernism Week features one-of-a-kind presentations from heavy hitters in architecture and design. Below are our recommendations for fun and informative talks to attend in between tours and parties.
Keynote Presentation: Thom Mayne, FAIA
Thom Mayne founded his now internationally renowned architecture and planning firm Morphosis in 1972 as a collective practice of architecture, urbanism, and design, rooted in rigorous research and innovation. In addition to his presentation, Mayne will sign copies of his most recent book, M³: modeled works [archive] 1972-2022 (Rizzoli, 2022). A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception catered by local favorite Eight4Nine in the museum’s sculpture garden follows!
Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75
Michelangelo Sabatino and Susan Benjamin present Modern in the Middle. This is the first survey of the classic twentieth-century houses in the Chicago area that defined American Midwestern Modernism.
The Historic Burnham Artist Colony and its Future as Soho House Palm Springs
Private social club Soho House, with its locations worldwide, is known for designing unique places for members to eat, drink and connect. When Soho House acquired some of Palm Springs’ most notable historic Spanish Colonial Revival properties, the community buzzed with anticipation. This presentation covers the history and inspiration behind Colony 29 (current name of the Historic Burnham Artist Colony) and its plans as Soho House’s desert outpost.
Temple Isaiah: The Evolution of Classical to Extreme Modernism
A guided media presentation and walking tour of two sanctuaries. The E. Stewart Williams modernist-designed 1950s Liberman Chapel and the 1980s Bochner brutalist style by Architect David Christian.
Palm Springs is home to world-class museums, galleries, and cultural institutions, all well worth a visit during your time in the desert. During Modernism Week, visitors to the city can take advantage of the many hiking and biking trails that wind their way through the San Jacinto mountains or enjoy a round of golf at one of the city’s many world-class courses.
Museums and galleries include the Palm Springs Art Museum, which features a range of contemporary and modern art exhibitions.
Did you know that Palm Springs boasts the world’s largest rotating tramcar? The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway travels over two and one-half miles along the spectacular cliffs of Chino Canyon, transporting riders to the breathtaking wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park.
Palm Springs also offers a range of other arts and cultural attractions that are worth visiting during your time in the city. These include the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, which pays tribute to the many celebrities who have called Palm Springs home, and the Moorten Botanical Garden, which features a range of native and exotic plants and cacti.
Of course, no trip to Palm Springs would be complete without lounging in a stunning, unique space and enjoying the area’s beautiful natural surroundings. Open Air Homes has a number of gorgeous homes available for rental, many of them historic midcentury modern homes.
Here are our top recs for accommodation during Modernism Week:
Immaculately designed by renowned architect Albert Belden Crist, this luxurious mid-century home features 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Enjoy colorful landscaping and a sparkling, heated pool in this expansive outdoor area. Built in 1957, Monterey Manor is perfect for the design lover in all of us – pick up one of the many art books, feel inspired, and most importantly, enjoy every moment of your stay.
Click here to book Monterey Manor.
On the Rocks
Easily the epitome of notable Palm Springs architecture, On The Rocks™ has been carefully reimagined to create a private, exclusive resort experience reserved for the most discerning vacation guest.
Situated high in the hills of the historic and eclectic Mesa neighborhood, On The Rocks is an original Hugh Kaptur AIA design, and has been often noted as “one of the finest examples of modern hillside architecture in Palm Springs”.
Home to a custom saline pool with two infinity edges, an integrated spa, and a tanning shelf. Located between the main house and casita is the outdoor living room, which features a bar area, fire pit, and Hestan gas grill.
Click here to book On the Rocks.
Heaven or Palm Springs
Named after the Cocteau Twins’ widely-acclaimed sixth studio album, Heave or Palm Springs is an artsy paradise that’s sure to inspire. From the extensive hand-selected vinyl collection to the high-fidelity record player, Heaven or Palm Springs is ideal for those seeking a winter getaway with warm weather and cool vibes. Eclectic art pieces, vintage-styled bedrooms, and a galley kitchen with subway tile are just some of the elements that lend this home its fresh energy and hip attitude.
Click here to book Heaven or Palm Springs.
Boasting a large pool lounge area, indoor and outdoor wet bars, and breathtaking mountain views, midcentury-inspired Sunsplash is an elegant and artful retreat. Interior Designed by H3K Home + Design, this tranquil escape with breathtaking mountain views is less than 5 miles from Downtown Palm Springs. The beautifully landscaped and secluded outdoor area offers unobstructed mountain views. Skylights, private patios, and windows throughout. Enjoy happy hour at the outdoor bar along the large pool and spa deck. True indoor/outdoor California living!
Click here to stay at Sunsplash.
Design-Driven Palm Springs Vacation Rentals
Are you looking for a design-driven short-term rental that meets your needs during Palm Springs Modernism Week?
Look no further than Open Air Homes.
View all available vacation rentals here.