All About Mid-Century Modern Architecture

Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Palm Springs
Mid-Century Modern Architecture

Why is everyone so interested in Mid-Century Modern Architecture? With all of today’s innovation, technology and design, why are we resorting back to designs that originated more than 60 years ago. There are countless stores and websites dedicated to midcentury modern tastes and many architects and developers have embraced this style when building new homes.

Mid-Century Modernism is an architectural design style that generally describes the mid-20th Century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development between the 1920s and 1980s.

Many consider Frank Lloyd Wright’s principal movement of organic architecture combined with the Craftsman (Arts and Crafts) style to be the jumping off point for the aesthetics behind Mid-Century Modern Architecture. Continue reading “All About Mid-Century Modern Architecture”

Los Angeles Design Festival In Full Swing

Now underway through June 30 (2013), the Los Angeles Design Festival is an annual series of design events staged around greater Los Angeles that celebrates how design in — all its disciplines — impacts our quality of life.

A plethora of events are held from the Los Angeles Convention Center, home tours and skyline walks  to small design shops, produced by organizations and companies that have a point of view on design and its role in the LA environs and culture.  The Festival encompasses Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties.  Major sponsors and partners include Dwell on Design, The Lincoln Mercury Company, JC Penney, and the American Society of Interior Designers. Continue reading “Los Angeles Design Festival In Full Swing”

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”

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”

Real Estate: Buy Low, Sell High

In the Palm Springs area, the only homes that are selling are at 30-50% discounts.  Many would-be home buyers seem to be holding back in fear (or hope) that prices will fall some more.  If you believe in Buy Low you should be wary of trying to buy at the bottom – that is very hard to do.  It’s better to get most of the benefit of the low, than to miss it altogether.  Median prices were actually lower last year than now.

It does look as if prices may fall again, but I may be wrong .  In the opinion of some, we saw prices rise last year due to various government stimulus programs, and they could rise again if private investment increases.  We have seen unemployment increase and that will increase the number of foreclosures.  The impact of new foreclosures should be minimal because we have seen the banks meter them onto the market about as fast as they are selling, which has kept prices stable.

Could a meaningful drop of 20% or more still happen?  If a Mid-Century Modern home was $500,000 at the peak, it is possibly worth around $300,000 now (a 40% drop).  I don’t believe it can go down to $200,000 (down 60%).  Could it go down 15% from $300,000 to $255,000?  It is possible, but a slight market improvement could keep the price steady or slightly increase it, as happened over the last year.  Meanwhile the buyer is still looking and we are getting closer to the time when prices will definitely increase.

Some sellers are waiting too.  If they need to sell, there isn’t much point in waiting for the return to high prices.  That won’t happen for many years.  They are likely better off selling now to start a new financial or housing base rather than dealing with an uncertain future.

For both Buyers and Sellers, there is a financial risk of doing nothing, and you may miss the chance of finding that perfect Kreisel Alexander or Walter S. White.

Wayne Longman

The Landmark Kaufmann House Still Makes News

This month’s Palm Springs Life’s home feature, “The Road to Fame and Fortune,” by Greg Archer ( opens with one of the area’s most famous homes, the Kaufmann House, a 1946 glass, steel and stone landmark designed by architect Richard Neutra.

The home has twice been at the vanguard of new movements in architecture:  First by helping to shape postwar Modernism and later, as a result of a painstaking and expensive restoration in the late 1990s, spurred a revival of interest in mid-20th century homes, according to a New York Times review by Edward Wyatt (

This house continues to make news as an important landmark.

One of the best-known icons by Viennese émigré Neutra, who moved to the United States in the 1920s, this unusual pin-wheel plan house was designed for Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann.  It was the last domestic project by the architect, and arguably his most famous. Continue reading “The Landmark Kaufmann House Still Makes News”

The West Coast’s Largest Design Event

West Coast’s Largest Design Show Celebrates the Best Modern Projects, Products and People.

If you can’t get enough Mid-Century Modern, do not miss Dwell On Design ( ), the West Coast’s largest design event, returning June 25-27 to the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Only a two-hour drive from Palm Springs.

Curated by the editors of Dwell Magazine, this three-day extravaganza features more than 200 brands on exhibition with design-forward exhibits, competitions, East and West side home tours, and over 80 presentations and panels by design industry  leaders and influencers. Continue reading “The West Coast’s Largest Design Event”

Home Prices – Will History Repeat Itself?

We see a lot of news about home prices, both good and bad.  Nobody can predict the future, but we might find clues about it in the past.  The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, captured the California home price collapse in 1990, as shown in the first chart – for high-tier Los Angeles homes.  Then the prices had increased by about a factor of two, just like our last bubble, as shown in the second chart.  The scale in the first chart has been expanded to show they were very similar bubbles, even to their relative size, shape, duration and the false recoveries in 1991 and 2007.  Maybe we can use the 1990’s experience to project our current recovery. 

If so, the blue bars show that it took seven years from the peak to just get to the point where prices began a true recovery.  Our price recovery may not start until 2013, and this is a worse economic situation than in the 1990’s. In between now and 2013 we may see still lower prices.  It is difficult to tell if the small peak we see today is a false recovery or the reaction to an overshoot in the drop, but from the last bubble it is not likely the beginning of recovery.  Again historically, that increase around 2013 will be at the rate of inflation, which in the long term is around 2.5% a year.  If so, this is relative price stability and isn’t bad news – volatility in home prices is the bad news because neither sellers or buyers know what to expect.  – Wayne Longman

Case-Shiller LA High Tier 1990 Bubble
Case-Shiller LA High Tier 1990 Bubble
LA Case-Shiller High Tier 2006 Bubble
LA Case-Shiller High Tier 2006 Bubble

Video Tour of Trendy El-Paseo in Palm Desert

You can spend a leisurely morning shopping up and down El Paseo, the Deserts own Rodeo Drive.  On El Paseo, you can shop in The Gardens, an upscale shopping and dining treat. You’ll find  Sullivan’s Steak House (great for martinis), Pacifica, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tommy Bahamas, Ralph Lauren, Veneto, Williams & Sonoma, and more. Tiffany’s is across the street from the locally-owned Jeweler, Frascas.  Luis Vuitton is going to be open by end of the year. There are high-end doggie boutiques, pastry shops, Italian markets and specialty stores and more restaurants.

Effect of Bank-Owned On Non-Bank-Owned Prices

Bank-owned properties (aka REO’s) are known to affect surrounding property prices.  This effect might be seen in past sale prices in the well-defined Palm Springs community of Vista Las Palmas.  This graph shows a decrease in the long term price trend of Non-REO homes at about the time the REO homes were sold.  The effect isn’t that great because REO’s are generally priced low, but close to the market.  There may even be early signs of price strengthening as they fade into the past.  As always though, prices are determined by Buyers.  – Wayne Longman