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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Palm Springs Modern

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One of my favorite recent trips was to Palm Springs, CA - a national treasure with stunning modernist architecture. I loved Palm Springs so much that I had to bring some of it back with me, so I bought tons of great books on architecture and interior design while I was there. One of my favorites is a book called "Palm Springs Modern," written by Adele Cygelman and photographed by David Glomb. Here are some of the images that struck me the most:

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From this aerial shot, it's easy to see why Palm Springs was such a hot spot for 1950s starlet's to escape to - it's in the middle of nowhere!

1 From this aerial shot, it's easy to see why Palm Springs was such a hot spot for 1950s starlet's to escape to - it's in the middle of nowhere!

The Raymond Loewy House was designed by the famous Palm Springs-based architect, Albert Frey. Though I love the irreverence and imagination behind the pool, which extends into the living areas, I would be afraid of my guests taking an unwanted dip during cocktail parties!

2 The Raymond Loewy House was designed by the famous Palm Springs-based architect, Albert Frey. Though I love the irreverence and imagination behind the pool, which extends into the living areas, I would be afraid of my guests taking an unwanted dip during cocktail parties!

This is a stunning black and white shot looking out at the Loewy House pool and the vast stretch of desert, mountain range and rolling clouds beyond. Those large blown-glass vessels to the left and far background also catch my eye. The owners filled them with pink-colored water - I'd like to try this on a smaller scale in the powder room.

3 This is a stunning black and white shot looking out at the Loewy House pool and the vast stretch of desert, mountain range and rolling clouds beyond. Those large blown-glass vessels to the left and far background also catch my eye. The owners filled them with pink-colored water - I'd like to try this on a smaller scale in the powder room.

The dining room of the Kaufmann House, with Eames chairs and a Raymond Loewy-designed rug. The wall of glass to the left mimics the open wall to the right. It's an invitation to bring the outdoors in, and it inspires me to create a botanical garden on my deck.

4 The dining room of the Kaufmann House, with Eames chairs and a Raymond Loewy-designed rug. The wall of glass to the left mimics the open wall to the right. It's an invitation to bring the outdoors in, and it inspires me to create a botanical garden on my deck.

I love the low lying lounge chairs, floor pillows and table featured in this open room of the Kaufmann house (called

5 I love the low lying lounge chairs, floor pillows and table featured in this open room of the Kaufmann house (called "the gloriette" by designer Richard Nuetra). They're closeness to the floor creates an air of comfort and luxury - something I'm aiming for in my apartment.

Julius Schulman, a pillar of modernist architectural photography, took this iconic exterior shot of the Kaufman house -

6 Julius Schulman, a pillar of modernist architectural photography, took this iconic exterior shot of the Kaufman house - "Twilight."

The designers of this home, Donald Wexler and Ric Harris, said that the only materials they ever used were steel, concrete, and glass, as they are

7 The designers of this home, Donald Wexler and Ric Harris, said that the only materials they ever used were steel, concrete, and glass, as they are "all appropriate to the desert climate" and resistant to earthquakes and termites. My building employs the same materials, but luckily I don't have to worry about the earthquakes and termites!

Here's an interior shot of the Wexler & Harris home with original terrazzo floors, which were hidden under unsightly shag carpeting for decades until the current owner discovered them! I considered a similar flooring option but am happy with my final decision to go with bleached wood.

8 Here's an interior shot of the Wexler & Harris home with original terrazzo floors, which were hidden under unsightly shag carpeting for decades until the current owner discovered them! I considered a similar flooring option but am happy with my final decision to go with bleached wood.

I want to pull every piece of furniture from this photo and place it in my living room! I love everything here - from the clean, crisp sofas to the angular leather and metal chairs and geometric shelving to the right of the mantel. *(correction: the

9 I want to pull every piece of furniture from this photo and place it in my living room! I love everything here - from the clean, crisp sofas to the angular leather and metal chairs and geometric shelving to the right of the mantel. *(correction: the "shelving" is actually the work of artist Donald Judd)

I'd love to have a spot like this in my library to sit down and leaf through all of my books.

10 I'd love to have a spot like this in my library to sit down and leaf through all of my books.

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Comments (8)

  • great book, reminds me of sinatra's twin palms home. you can never go wrong referencing palms springs as long as you keep away from the kitsch.

  • Glad you had a great time in Palm Springs. Just a minor correction, the architect that Wexler worked with was Richard Harrison.

    Hope you return soon!

    Paul

  • Kevin, on your next trip to PS, check out the "Mod Resort"...a renovated 1950s hotel. It's a great place to stay. I love it when someone buys a run-down smaller hotel and recreates the property with a modern flair. There's a place in Texas too called The San Jose Hotel in Austin that was once a flop-house now turned into trendy hideout.

  • Hi Kevin, Love Palm Springs use to go on long weekends while studying in L.A, so relaxing vacations. I also remember the tours to famous houses. Interesting collection of books. Picture # 9 beautiful modern furniture.

  • Seems like so many of today's modernists are really only emulating architects of the palm springs modernist era. How can one improve on the Kaufmann house?

  • Lovely photos- I like the modern look as well. I keep trying to understand why I like it. I think it has something to do with not having any clutter and a place for everything as well as the beautiful shapes.

  • Love looking at modernist homes, but would love it even more if I could live in one for a short while.

    They're eye candy, but are they hospitable environments for a tired, aching back at the end of a long workday?

  • I'm headed to Palm Springs next weekend and staying at the Ace which looks like a cool place. Thanks for sharing these examples of modern arch. It truly looks like an inspiring place.

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