The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands Is a Time Capsule of Past and Future

Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage was the winter home of former US Ambassadors, entrepreneurs and philanthropists Walter and Lenore Annenberg.

Designed by iconic Southern California architect A. Quincy Jones, the 22,500 square foot Mid Century Modern home, completed in 1966, served as an unofficial center for world leaders, US presidents, politicians and celebrities, who were frequent guests of the Annenbergs for more than 40 years.

Situated in the middle of 200 acres of landscaped grounds and a private golf course, all surrounded by pink block walls, anticipation of seeing the magnificent Aztec-inspired glass and stone estate builds as you drive up the winding road to the summit. Continue reading “The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands Is a Time Capsule of Past and Future”

Events for Modernism Week 2013 Announced


Get ready for Modernism Week 2013, February 14-24, for 11 days of parties, a retro fundraiser, bus tours, lectures and the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale.

Palm Springs Preservation Foundation just unveiled four events including PSFP board member Gary Johns’ acclaimed free lecture Lost, Saved & Endangered: Modernist Architecture in Palm Spring; the always popular tour of Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate; a new tour of three steel homes; and the signature Retro Martini Party fundraiser. Continue reading “Events for Modernism Week 2013 Announced”

Oops, There Goes The Neighborhood… Safeguarding Unique Mid Century Modern Tracts

Almost every development of modern homes faces the eventual challenge of keeping its architectural integrity.  But as Mid-Century Modernism wins more fans, residents are banning together to save their neighborhoods’ unique look and character.

Since Modernism is a subtle style, it is easily compromised:   Adding a carriage style outdoor light fixture in lieu of an original hour-glass one, or tearing down artistic block to erect an adobe wall can easily change a home or neighborhood’s look.

In an Eichler network story by Dave Weinstein, Streetscape Smarts, he notes that, “The other major challenge to preserving modern neighborhoods is their age.  Many landmarking laws only kick in if a building is at least 50.”

The City of Palm Springs is already way ahead of that game with its Office of Neighborhood Involvement that provides residents with “responsive, coordinated services that promote and support collaboration and communications through recognized neighborhoods.” Continue reading “Oops, There Goes The Neighborhood… Safeguarding Unique Mid Century Modern Tracts”

Magazines, Websites Sources for Mid Century Modern Design

Mid Century Modern architecture and design aesthetics have been re-embraced by baby boomers whose childhoods were shaped by those times, as well as embraced by the next generation.

Growing global  appreciation of Modernism’s uncluttered clean lines, bold, forward thinking architecture fits well with today’s concern for environment and sustainable practices.

A host of national and international magazines and websites offer in-depth resources for Mid Century Modern homes, furnishings, accessories, and design resources.  We scoped out a few that really speak to the subject:

Modernism Magazine, a quarterly magazine about 20th century modernist design, ranges from the Wiener Werkstatte and the Bauhaus thinkers to Memphis and beyond covering Art Deco, mid-century pop and postmodern design. Continue reading “Magazines, Websites Sources for Mid Century Modern Design”

Palm Springs Modernism Week Events at Forefront in February

Palm Springs Modernism Week is one of the country’s most popular annual events for architects, modernism art and design fans, and mid century modern culture buffs.
The seventh annual Modernism Week, February 16-26, 2012 brings thousands to Palm Springs for 11 days of double-decker bus tours, lectures, films, exhibits, a vintage fashion show, and parties that celebrate the architecture and culture of the 1950-60s era. Modernism Week offers more than 75 events including some firsts for the Coachella Valley. Continue reading “Palm Springs Modernism Week Events at Forefront in February”

Palm Springs Art Museum Exhibits Capture Mid Century Art, Life

Blast from the Past: 60s and 70s Geometric Abstraction, now on exhibit in the Annenberg Wing at the Palm Springs Art Museum through December 23, is a vivid, powerful collection of geometric abstract paintings, sculpture and prints from the 1960s and 70s, a period known for its purity of style.

Some 100 artworks represent a variety of ideas in optical art (Op Art), kinetic art, minimalism, hard-edge and color field. Many of the works have rarely been or are on view for the first time in this impressive exhibit.

Purely abstract forms – square, rectangle, triangle, circle and geometric volumes such as the cube and cone — suggest architecture and geometry, while the artists’ use of primary colors, lines and compositional devices present a sensual experience, illustrating alternative ideas about art and principles of reality.

Op Art, a trend that uses optical illusions to simulate motion and other perceptual shifts, is seen in the experiments of Victor Vasarely, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Yascov Agam.  Bright primary colors finely interspersed with complementary hues, creates visual interactions between the colors that seem to give off light and vibrations.

In Jesus Rafael Soto’s classic work, the sensation of constant flux transforms color, space, line into a new perceptual experience. Continue reading “Palm Springs Art Museum Exhibits Capture Mid Century Art, Life”

A Swingin’ Affair Benefit December 11 Celebrates Frank Sinatra’s Birthday At Two Mid Century Modern Landmarks

Frank Sinatra’s former Twin Palms estate, designed by E. Stewart Williams,

A Swinging’ Affair on December 11, a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association, celebrates Frank Sinatra’s birthday and promises gala-goers a taste of Sinatra’s swingin’ lifestyle at two of his favorite Mid-Century  hangouts.

From a cocktail party at Sinatra’s former Twin Palms estate to a grand gala at the Riviera Resort and Spa and late-night after party in the Riviera’s Starlite Lounge, guests experience the Rat Pack lifestyle for an evening .  At the Riviera, glitzy talent includes Frank Sinatra, Jr. with his 20 piece orchestra, singer Lainie Kazan with Matt Dusk and Daniel Joseph Baker from America’s Got Talent.  Actress Pamela Anderson is host of the Grand Gala.

The evening offers a rare opportunity to hang out and enjoy cocktails at listen to the live music of Buddy Greco Jr. Trio with Matt Dusk crooning at Sinatra’s former home, a modernism landmark  by noted architect E. Stewart Williams. Continue reading “A Swingin’ Affair Benefit December 11 Celebrates Frank Sinatra’s Birthday At Two Mid Century Modern Landmarks”

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Atop the Tram on Dec. 4

A monumental Mid-Century landmark, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway continues to play an important part in the Coachella Valley’s tourism industry as major attraction and a visible beacon from the mountain signaling seasonal events to residents below.

The official Palm Springs Aerial Tramway’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be on Sunday, December 4.  Actor and comedian Ronnie Schell will be the Celebrity Tree Lighter and  festivities begin at the Mountain Station at 5:30pm with the Palm Springs High School Choir singing a selection of holiday songs.  When the tree is lit, it can be seen throughout the Coachella Valley.   Both the Valley Station and Mountain Station will be festively decorated. Continue reading “Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Atop the Tram on Dec. 4”

Major Mid Century Modern Exhibits in Southern California Start this Fall

California Modernism is alive and well, with numerous major exhibitions throughout Southern California starting in October that celebrate and explore architecture, design, furnishings, art and those who created California’s unique lifestyle.

The Pacific Standard Time initiative is a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene.  An initiative of The Getty Foundation, this comprehensive scope intends to highlight the work of Los Angeles artists during the dynamic period following World War II.  Concurrent Pacific Standard Time exhibitions will run from Fall 2011 to Spring 2012 throughout the Los Angeles area and from Santa Barbara to San Diego and Palm

The first major study of California’s influence on Mid Century Modern design, California Design, 1930-1965: , debuts October 1 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with more than 300 objects – furniture, ceramics, metal work, fashions and textiles, and industrial and graphic design. Continue reading “Major Mid Century Modern Exhibits in Southern California Start this Fall”

Famed Architect Barry Berkus (1925-2012) – At Modernism Week 2011

Mid-Century Modern in Palm Springs

During Modernism Week 2011, Park Imperial South on South Araby Drive in Palm Springs celebrated its 50th birthday and invited the public to tour its 31-unit condominium community.  Created in 1960 by one of the nation’s most noted residential architects, Barry Berkus, AIA, Park Imperial South’s remarkable Mid Century Modern design still thrives and remains virtually untouched.

Berkus guided the tour and presented his take on modernism’s mark on architecture in Palm Springs and across America.  A video archive of the design tour and Berkus’ discussion is posted here. Continue reading “Famed Architect Barry Berkus (1925-2012) – At Modernism Week 2011”