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Modernism Week – Coast to Coast Cool

Written by Amy Thyr • February 15th, 2013
Modernism Week – Coast to Coast Cool

Frey II House, 1963-4, Albert Frey architect, collection Palm Springs Art Museum. — Photograph courtesy Gregg Felsen.

A mecca for all things mid-century modern, Palm Springs once again showcases its world-famous modern design, architecture, and culture with the 11-day festival know as Modernism Week.

Modernism was a popular design aesthetic originating in the 1950s and ’60s, which typified clean, simple lines with elegant informality. It came to define desert modernism as a sought-after architectural genre.

Modernism Week has become one of the most popular events for architects, modernism aficionados, artists, designers, and mid-mod fans. Over the last few years the attendance has grown to around 35,000 people and 2013 is expected to be bigger and better than ever.

Palm Springs Modernism Week features over 100 events including architectural tours, films, lectures, symposiums, fashion, and the hippest parties in the coolest homes!

Kicking of the week is a swinging cocktail party at Frank Sinatra’s  Twin Palms Estate, originally designed by E.  Stewart Williams in 1947 for Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Frank later lived there with his next wife, Ava Gardner.

Other highlights of the week include the PreFab Showcase and Modern Living Expo. The PreFab Showcase has expanded this year to include several prefab structures that combine world-class architecture with green, eco-friendly, and sustainable construction. Added to the PreFab Showcase this year is the Modern Living Expo featuring exhibitors of smart-home technology, green living and cutting-edge ideas for living in today’s modern home.

The Pan Am Exhibition presents a collection of memorabilia, uniforms, and nostalgic items for the now-defunct, iconic airline.

Two new fashion events take place this year — Fashion Forward: A Vintage Clothing Retrospective and The Bad and the Beautiful: Film Costumes of the Silver Screen Fashion Show. From mini-skirts and shift-dresses, to the sit-in, bell-bottomed, independent styles, and even shoulder-padded, over-the-top fashions, the highly stylized Fashion Forward show will come to vibrant life on the runway with the swinging and glamorous trends of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The Palm Springs Historical Society presents the Silver Screen Fashion Show offering a unique opportunity to see into the world of film costume design from the Golden Age of Hollywood. During the light lunch and tea that is served at the show, special guest Bill Marx, son of legendary Harpo Marx, will be playing at the piano.

Not to be missed are the daily Double Decker Architecture Bus Tours. Knowledgeable guides will provide a fascinating overview of Palm Springs’ world-renowned mid-century modern architecture, it’s most notable architects, and a how this desert playground became home to many of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities.

These a just a few of the fabulous events take place during Palm Springs Modernism Week, happening February 14-23, 2013.

Following in the footsteps of Palm Springs Modernism Week is Tropic Magazines ModWeekend 2013. This first-time event is a 3-day celebration of Ft. Lauderdale’s mid-century modern architectural gems from the 1950s and 60s.

Highlights of the weekend include traveling by double decker bus and get an up-close and personal look at eight of Ft. Lauderdale’s mid-century modern landmarks including: Harold Wagoner’s Sanctuary, built in 1960; Charles McKirahan’s tiki-temple from 1955… the Mai Kai; the award-winning structure of Dan Duckham built in 1964; Sea Tower, one of the nations first cooperative high-rise residences; Tony Sherman’s nautical-moderne Yankee Clipper Hotel and Hyatt’s Pier 66 hotel, a space-age icon from the 60’s— then finishing off with tiki cocktails at the Mai Kai.

Each evening architectural and design films will be shown at the Classic Gateway Theater. Films include the award-winning Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman documenting the life of famed architectural photographer Julius Shulman, and Coast Modern, a documentary on West Coast Modern architecture from LA to Vancouver.

More fun will be had ModWeekend at North Beach  Village. A vintage auto show, vintage antiques market, and special guided tours via open-air electric taxi’s showcasing the significant building and recent progress of this rapidly reviving area.

Of course the only way to end such a fab weekend is with a Tiki Madness party at the world-famous Mai Kai. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the Polynesian-inspired  institution will bring a close to the first-ever ModWeek 2013.

Ft. Lauderdale’s ModWeek 2013 is March 15-17, 2013.

Above: Arthur Elrod Residence — Photo by Gregg Felsen

Above: Frank Sinatra House — Photo by Gregg Felsen

Above: William Holden House — Photo courtesy Palm Springs Board of Tourism

Above: Vintage Car Show — Photo by David Dixon

Above: Vintage Trailer Show — Photo by Gregg Felsen

Above: Palm Springs Visitor Center (formerly Tramway Gas Station), Frey and Chambers, architects, 1963-65 — Photo by Gregg Felsen

Above: Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai, Sunnylands, A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons, 1966 — © Juergen Nogai, courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum.

Above: The Mai Kai; the award-winning structure of Dan Duckham built in 1964

Above: The Sea Tower

Amy Thyr

Amy Thyr is a designer, Tiki geek, mad for mid-century mod and adorer of Mai Tais. Buddy Love where are you?

Find out more about Amy Thyr

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