As the home of one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in the United States, the Greater Palm Springs area makes a natural setting for Modernism Week, the annual event that celebrates the sleek style every February. Join thousands of design buffs and architecture fans for tours, films, lectures, and related art exhibitions, as well as a lot of fun parties.
Palm Springs’ association with mid-century modern design goes back to the 1940s, when visionary architects such as Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, E. Stewart Williams, and Donald Wexler started designing “futuristic” homes and buildings that stood out beautifully against the desert’s elegant landscape. Today, Palm Springs often looks like a time capsule from the era when movie stars, moguls, and presidents increasingly made the desert an A-list getaway.
These days, Modernism Week typically lasts 11 days, with a lineup of more than 300 activities. Choose from walking, biking, or bus tours to see iconic homes and buildings in more than 30 neighborhoods—with themes such as Unique Boutique Resorts, Lush Living on the Links, and Showbiz Legends’ Hideaways. Each year typically showcases at least one new home, too, which has been created using mid-century modern aesthetics. The festival is also a prime time to explore the historic Annenberg Estate at Sunnylands, or to see the former home of Frey, which now sits on the grounds of the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Beyond tours, the festival’s calendar typically includes a variety of fascinating talks, a classic car show, garden tours, and cocktail parties held in famous spots such as The Lautner Compound or the Royal Hawaiian Estates neighborhood. Best of all, all events are open to the public, and many are free or affordably priced.
If you can’t make it in February, you can still experience the city’s architecture and design through private tours and self-guided adventures (good places to start: the Palm Springs Visitors Center and the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center). Check out Modernism Week’s ongoing online store, too, for cool posters, t-shirts, pool towels, and tissue-box covers that look like famous homes.