Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Palm Springs Modernism

"Desert Polynesia" by SHAG
from the series, "A Gracious Oasis"
Mr. Larry and I are huge fans of Palm Springs modern architecture. I grew up with this type of architecture. My Dad was in the building biz in the 50's and 60's and supplied many of the doors and wardrobes to various apartment and home builders throughout the L.A. area and beyond.

For about 5 years during my youth, we had an apartment in a PS apartment/hotel, near Palm Canyon Drive and would visit every other weekend. In later years, many of my friends' parents had homes in PS and I was lucky enough to be a frequent houseguest. In those days, PS was a teenager's paradise. We'd hang out on Palm Canyon to watch each other. There were pool parties, record hops and all sorts of inappropriate teen behavior goin' on. Great times. While we were frying ourselves by the pool or cruisin' Palm Canyon, our parents were either playing tennis, golf or soaking up cocktails in many of the PS restaurants and nightclubs.

Going back to PS years later, I was impressed by how many fabulous modern structures there were. By modern, I mean mid-20th century, low-slung concrete, boulder and marble wonders. Most of these structures are centered in the "old" area of Palm Springs. In later years, the towns of Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Palm Desert, Cathedral City and La Quinta were developed and people started building serious homes, golf courses and shopping centers in those outlying areas. Old Palm Springs faltered....many modern buildings were destroyed or left abandoned. Popular shopping areas and restaurants moved away from Downtown PS. Finally, in the 80's a resurgence began and historically informed people realized the importance of the mid-century architecture in the downtown area. People moved in, renovated homes, stores, etc. and the resurgence began. Now, many new buildings in the area are in the modern style. The fashion of building in the Spanish Reivival/Hacienda style has waned.....modernism in the Desert is back!

A marvelous resource to educate yourself on the history of Palm Springs modernism is The Palm Springs Modern Committee, formed by a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee.

As we drove into Palm Springs last Thursday, we passed the Visitor Center, at the base of the Palm Springs Tramway. This building was designed by Albert Frey in 1965 as a gas station. It was threatened with demolition, but luckily was saved and became a visitor's center. We drove over to M Modern Art Gallery to see if it was open. It was closed, but next door to the Gallery was this newish store called Modern Home. Inside was every resource to outfit your modern Palm Springs home. These are new materials that look like the classic mid-20th century building supplies, furnishings, fixtures, flooring, etc. We spent alot of time ogling everything here.

Later, we stopped at a modern consignment shop to look at some of the original furniture and accessories from this era. I'm so enamoured with the clean, classic lines of this furniture.

If only I could live an uncluttered life!



At 6:11 PM PDT, Blogger Monique Marie Sauniere said...

Damn. Now I want a TIKI for my living room.

At 8:09 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice art and nice headers on your blog here. Fount yours while searching for hot springs to fill my curiosity while writing for my blog about hot springs.

At 8:41 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous pics! I would love to go back to one of those days in PS.

At 11:35 PM PDT, Blogger mehitabel said...

Wow--my husband had a lounge chair almost exactly like that orangey-gold one: the color was "marigold." And gee, I even did some of those "mosaic" wall plaques! Little did we know how modern we were! (PS--pole lamp, too. And boomerang-shaped coffee table.)

At 10:06 PM PDT, Blogger Allison said...

Is that gravel art in one of your photos on the slide show??

At 4:18 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hi Allison...
I don't know if that's "gravel" art, but it is a form of mosaic, using small colored stones, pasted onto wooden placques. They were quite popular in the late 50's and early 60's. I remember getting a kit for my 8 b-day. I wish I still had them!


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