Modernism has strong following in Palm Springs

By Kyle Husfloen – Editor-at-Large

The weekend of Feb. 17-19, 2007,  saw the return of the annual Palm Springs Modernism Show held at the beautiful new Palm Springs Convention Center. Dolphin Promotions organizes this event, which benefits the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation.

Palm Springs is an appropriate venue for this show since Mid-Century Modern design has a very strong following in the area. In the 1950s, a wide range of Alexander-designed residences were constructed around the city and today these “vintage” homes are considered landmarks. Also, the sleek, restrained lines of post-war furniture and decorative arts seem to fit very well with the desert lifestyle of this area.

A large majority of the 75 exhibitors at this show displayed furniture pieces, but related decorative accents including glass, ceramics and lighting also were found in abundance. Although many of the dealers were from the southern California region, there also were representatives from the Midwest and East Coast. Many top line “designer” furniture pieces were offered, covering modern lines from Art Deco through unique 1970s designs. There was a special Friday night preview party with some 800 people in attendance and, by the time I visited the show on Saturday afternoon, most booths were dotted with “Sold” signs.

An exhibition titled “Starring William Haines” was also a special feature at the show. This renowned designer was a darling of Hollywood celebrity society from the 1940s through the 1970s. It was greeted with rave reviews. Curated by Bill Stern of the Museum of California Design and designed by Felis Stella, this exhibit was sponsored by Wright 20, Sotheby’s International Realty and Lindley Associates.

This year the show served as the opening event of Palm Springs Modernism Week that ran from Feb. 17-25. During the week, a number of special events were presented including lectures, parties and special architectural tours.
With the winter tourism season in full swing in Palm Springs, this popular show and related events add another great dimension to this desert city. Long famed as a destination for the rich and famous, today the charming town offers a wealth of shops, shows and events that appeal to visitors from around the world.