Modernism Week – A Designer’s Delight

Modernism Week


Those who have enjoyed the grandeur that is Palm Springs, California, will attest to its sunny warmth, paradise-worthy weather and the brilliance of its authentic desert style.  Add to this a magical conglomeration of innovative work by superb artists, set against the backdrop of exquisite, color-filled natural landscapes, native palm trees swaying in the wind and the majesty of the San Jacinto Mountains in the distance, you have the award-winning recipe for the spectacular Modernism Week.  This annual event genially showcases where mid-century architecture, fashion, art, and design meet contemporary ideas and thinking; it is an understatement to merely suggest that it is a designer’s dream to attend.  The impressiveness of this extraordinary event, however, extends far beyond this description.

Christopher Kennedy Compound - Palm Springs

Living room – Christopher Kennedy Show House by Michel Berman


A Great Time from the Word “Go”

You know you’re going to have a fantastic time at an event when even a check-in area is an event unto itself.  The Modernism Week experience began this year with the community and meeting place (CAMP) being pitched at the famed Robinsons Building.  In addition to the usual protocols of checking in, ticket purchases and generally offered assistance, this year’s 28,000 sf facilities also boasted a gift shop, bookstore, full bar, and Ferguson outdoor kitchen and lounge area, not to mention a 150-person lecture seating area.  As a special twilight treat, attendees were invited to Sunset Cocktails on Sierra Way, a sunset soiree hosted by Kohler with special guests, the leading ladies of design from the Women in Design.  (Cost to attend the event was $85.)

Modernism Week Palm Springs Event photo by Jake Holt

Modernism Week Camp Community and meeting place photo by Jake Holts


Exclusive Home Tours

If you have your sights set on participating in any of the numerous home tours arranged for Modernism Week, be sure to sign up early as these tours sell out very quickly.  Not surprising when you consider that these homes are generally closed to public viewing.  For this event, though, you are cordially invited—and encouraged—to unleash your inner artistic voyeur and see first-hand the exemplary architecture of such infamous homes as the Frank Sinatra House (the late Donald Wexler’s final parting gift to home design), and the Abernathy House, designed by famed midcentury architect, William F. Cody in 1962 for millionaire socialite, James Logan Abernathy.  And, for trivia buffs, the Abernathy House has an additional claim to fame: it was an event site for the acclaimed Mad Men, a television show known for its dedication to meticulous design and craft.  For an extra special viewing of these exclusive homes, you’ll want to take advantage of the Illuminated Modern Sunset Bus Tours, which display the stunning architecture of these homes spectacularly lit up against the night sky.

And, if traditional homes don’t fully quench your thirst for creative home design, you can avail yourself to the Vintage Trailer Show, which highlights a variety of vintage mobile home styles, even featuring the architectural twist on a reimagined Greyhound bus.

Modernism week

Modernism week Palm Springs kitchen by Christopher Kennedy


Modernism Week

Modernism week Palm Springs kitchen by Christopher Kennedy



Fascinating Talks & Lectures

When it comes to designers of any kind honing and expanding our craft, it’s tough to beat the insight we receive from being exposed to the experience of both experts and peers in our fields of interest, whether they share our particular design discipline, a complementary artistic focus or a design aesthetic completely opposite of our own.  The organizers of Modernism Week arrange amazing speakers, including (but certainly not limited to) regional architects, extraordinary chefs and culinary artists in their own rites, and other sought-after authorities across design specialties.

Modernism week

Art at from the Christopher Kennedy Show House in Palm Springs


Spectacular—and Fun!—Events

There is no denying that one thing designers have in common is that we love to celebrate in a variety of ways and inside of our highly individual tastes and desires.  With over 200 organized events to choose from throughout the week, you are certain to have enough options to over-fill your schedule while in attendance.  No matter if your particular bend is of a more serious and cerebral nature or you believe in the motto, “The more parties, the better,” there will be plenty of events to keep you occupied.


Speaking of parties, one that’s not-to-miss is the swanky “Retro Martini Party,” held at the beautiful residence of Maurice and Dinah (Shore) Smith, designed in 1964 by the late Donald Wexler himself.  This extravagant event is hosted by the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation and is sure to leave you wanting more.

Modernism Week

Christopher Kennedy Show House Den Bath by Keith Fortner


Exceptional Architecture, Design, Art, Fashion and Culture

This year’s Modernism Week event featured the exquisite design talents of the Christopher Kennedy Compound, so popular in its exterior and interior designs that this is the third consecutive year it has been chosen as the event’s Show House, named by the Hollywood Reporter as the “#1 Must-See Event of Modernism Week!” the Modernism Week Show House 2016: The Christopher Kennedy Compound (presented by Traditional Home and California Homes magazines).  From impressionist painting style bathrooms to the sculpture-like living room designs and remarkable entry ways guiding its guests from one exceptionally designed room to another, this Christopher Kennedy masterpiece (which was renovated by sixteen designers  under the careful supervision of Christopher Kennedy himself) and its similarly top-notch neighboring house, the Freedman Residence (completely renovated by Christopher Kennedy and Art House Construction in 2015), are imperative for every designer and non-designer to see.  The latter was constructed in 1969 and it beautifully blends the simplicity of outdoor living with stunning views of the Indian Canyons Golf Resort, while also sporting an Aran Cucine Italian modern kitchen, Cosentino counters and the reliable plumbing fixtures by Kohler, among many other design features.

Christopher Kennedy Compound - Modernism Week

Patios and Landscape by Jamie Durie


Modernism Week

Christopher Kennedy Compound powder bath by Michel Boyd


Modernism Week

Living room by Michael Berman


Modernism Week

Den By Patrick Dragonette – Nautilus Ceiling Fixture


World-Class Shopping

For those who love to shop, a planned excursion to The Gardens on El Paseo will surely prove to be one worth taking.  Offering stores owned by high-end designers such as Louis Vuitton to the cutting-edge technology of Tesla, the variety of shops from ultra-fancy to hip and casual will not disappoint.  And, if you’re in the mood for some pampering, you can even stroll into Tiffany & Co. or purchase some luxurious shaving products for yourself or your favorite guy.


Record-Breaking Attendance

Considering the spectacular nature of the Modernism Week event, it’s no surprise that with 77,500 attendees, this was an official record-breaking year in attendance for the 11-day festival.  And since this included full community participation, an estimated $28.6 million in revenue was generated by local businesses, with more than $1 million going directly back to community neighborhoods and partner organizations, resulting in a record high for Modernism Week.


If you weren’t able to attend this year’s extraordinary, record-breaking event, you’ll want to get Modernism Week 2017 (February 16-26, 2017) into your plans for next year.  For more information, you can visit for the latest news and updates on next year’s events.



Robbie Maynard About Robbie Maynard

Robbie Maynard, is a food & chocolate lover she enjoys travel, art, photography & the San Diego sunsets with her family. Robbie is the owner of Robbie Interiors , she has been an interior designer for 30 years and has been featured on HGTV's Designers Challenge, published in Better Homes and Garden magazine and was recently a member of Modenus' Blog Tour to the National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. Robbie is also well known to San Diego Homes/Garden Lifestyles magazine's readers as a frequent contributor of design. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest

What do you think?



  1. 1

    Okay! I’m all packed for the West Coast! Great article packed with all sorts of goodies! #commanderinchic