The Super Bowl of Modernism Takes Over Palm Springs — Now Through February 26

Tacos & Tequila

02/17/23

When it comes to mid-century-modern design, Smith & Berg Partners identifies as a true connoisseur. Luckily, our city is teeming with inspiration at every turn and we have a front row seat — from the iconic 1959 Stahl House to many of our very own listings, like this 1960s time capsule on Leonard Road and this 1950s courtyard home by architect to the stars, Harold “Hal” Levitt. But, of course, we recognize that this rich architectural history transcends LA itself. In fact, just a two-hour drive away, Palm Springs is among the most significant mid-century-modern locales in the world. And this month, the world is taking a week to acknowledge that.

Running from February 16-26, Modernism Week is an annual celebration of modernist architecture in the greater Palm Springs area, featuring more than 350 events like home tours, exhibitions, cocktail parties and more — all honoring the art that is mid-century-modern design. The weeklong schedule is jam-packed, so we’ve taken the liberty to pluck our favorites and guide you in the right direction. But you’ll need a place to stay, right? Don't worry, we’ve covered that, too. This is our Super Bowl, so get reading and plan your desert getaway now. 

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TOP HOME TOURS

DOUBLE DECKER ARCHITECTURAL BUS TOUR

Explore Palm Springs’ most iconic architectural homes on wheels. Modernism Week’s signature tour, the premier double-decker bus excursion offers a 2.5-hour overview of significant buildings throughout the desert — from William Krisel’s House of Tomorrow to the Kaufmann Desert House, the former residence of Frank Sinatra and so many more. If you’re going to sign up for *one* thing, this is it.

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FREY HOUSE II TOUR & MUSEUM DAY PASS

Want to zero in on one architect in particular? Consider modernist maven Albert Frey your guy. Hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum, this self-guided tour offers a rare opportunity to see Frey's own residence, providing a unique perspective into his architectural sensibility. Plus, you can use your ticket for free admission to the Palm Springs Art Museum and Architecture & Design Center. We love a full package deal.

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Photo Courtesy of Palm Springs Art Museum

FRANK SINATRA’S NEIGHBORHOOD - THE MOVIE COLONY

For an up-close look at Frank Sinatra’s iconic Movie Colony in Palm Springs, this tour is one to put on the bucket list. The 2.5-hour outing is a true visual feast blending classic Spanish Colonial Revival architecture with sleek mid-century modern designs — including an exclusive look at Frank Sinatra’s E. Steward Williams-commissioned home. Simply put, you’ll find yourself in the land of legend. 

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Photo Courtesy of Dezeen

RAT PACK PLAYGROUND - MODERNIST HOMES

Thirsty for more house glam after the Movie Colony tour? Look no further than this 2.5-hour exploration of the Rat Pack Playground — once home to celebrities like Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Debbie Reynolds and Kim Novak. Here, you’ll experience the genius of architects William Krisel and Dan Palmer, and even see the mid-century modern masterpiece that is Kaufmann House designed by Richard Neutra.

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Photo Courtesy of NY Times

SUSTAINABLE HOMES TOUR

As we all know, sustainability is the name of the game when it comes to modern living. This self-driving tour offers special access to several private residences not normally open to the public, each showcasing solar-powered, off-the-grid design. You can even chat with the owners about their building processes, gain tips and tricks for your next project and simply earn insight into what the future of self-sustainable living looks like. There’s also a podcast you can tune into while leading your own tour. 

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Photo Courtesy of Curbed LA

Hungry for more? Check out the full Modernism Week schedule here

WHERE TO STAY

ACE HOTEL & SWIM CLUB

A mid-century desert oasis, Ace Hotel & Swim Club embraces the laid-back feel of its 1960s motel history while injecting a sense of modern, rustic design into its distinctive Palm Springs setting. And guess what? They’re offering a special Modernism Week room rate. Use the promo code MODERN at check out to receive a 20% discount this month. 

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Photo Courtesy of Ace Hotel

AZURE SKY HOTEL

Azure Sky has unmistakable mid-century modern roots, honoring the innovation of mid-twentieth-century architectural thinking while embracing the luxury desert living style of today. Although their VIP Opening Weekend package is now sold out, you can still book a room for a relaxing, wellness-focused stay. The spa has your name written all over it.  

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Photo Courtesy of Inside Hook

THE COLONY PALMS HOTEL

If you’re going to dive into the architectural history of Palm Springs, you should probably reside amongst it, too, right? Designed by Steve Hermann, The Colony Palms Hotel is a luxuriously private, adults-only hotel that has played host through the years to Hollywood’s elite, mobsters, producers, politicians and beyond. Chic, elegant, artful and the perfect setting to unwind after a day’s worth of exploring. Oh, and if you say three nights, they’re offering one night free.

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Photo Courtesy of Fathom Away

PARKER PALM SPRINGS

We can’t talk about the hotel scene in Palm Springs without mentioning the Parker. Formerly the estate of Western movie star Gene Autry, the boutique hotel has been masterfully outfitted by Jonathan Adler who’s injected his eccentric, modern flair throughout each space. From the glitz of their fine dining experience at Mister Parker’s to the sophisticated yet laid-back feel of each suite, Parker Palm Springs is a must for any design fanatic. 

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Photo Courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler

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