Modernism Week: A Festival for the Midcentury Modern Aficionado

The Desert Eichlers a Major Draw to the Festival

Written By: Chelsea Raineri
Photographed By: Natasha Lee
Styled By: Neil Cohen
Hair & Makeup By: Brian Keller
Model: Sofia Vespe of Brand Model & Talent Agency  Midcentury Homes

Internationally recognized as a top vacation destination, celebrities and tourists travel from all over to enjoy what Palm Springs has to offer—from warm weather and exciting nightlife to midcentury modern architecture. In fact, the architecture has gained such popularity, that a week is now dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of it. Modernism Week brings together midcentury modern fans and enthusiasts to celebrate this architectural style with over 250 events. One of the many styles of homes showcased are The Desert Eichlers; homes modeled after plans from the famous developer, Joseph Eichler. With walking and bike tours, lectures, nightly parties, films, and more, Modernism Week is sure to be unforgettable.

Initially starting as weekend events in 2006 planned around the Modernism Show and Sale, this year’s Modernism Week, Feb. 16 through 26, has significantly grown with over 80,000 people expected in attendance. Now spanning over 10 days, the events offered at the 2017 Modernism Week will be more diverse than ever before.

 “We have added more home, neighborhood and architectural tours; world-class lecturers presenting about design-related topics ranging from Mexico City Modern to the architecture of John Lautner; and exclusive access to private residential properties that are rarely open to the public,” says Lisa Vossler Smith, Executive Director of Modernism Week.

Not only does Modernism Week provide midcentury modern admirers with a unique way to appreciate the design of these homes and buildings, but it also brings a great deal of pride to the residents of greater Palm Springs.

“Residents and city officials have worked together for many years to identify, protect and restore the historic and architecturally significant properties in Palm Springs and surrounding cities,” says Smith.

The planning and production of the events are done in part by local community groups and organizations. The investment made by the community comes full circle as the millions of dollars generated from the ticket sales are given directly back to them.

For those attending Modernism Week for the first time, Smith recommends checking out the Community and Meeting Place (CAMP) upon arrival. Open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., CAMP is free to visit and provides attendees with everything from information and ticket sales, to culinary and cocktail mixology demonstrations. Guests can also listen to daily design talks and view films in the CAMP theater.

Although all 250 events offer unique experiences in a wide variety of topics including fashion, modern garden tours, and, of course, architecture, there are a few that are among the most popular, “Our top event continues to be the Modernism Week Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tours because they offer a comprehensive and entertaining overview of the exteriors of Palm Springs’ finest architecture from the upper deck of an open-air modern double decker bus.”

Signature Home Tours, Neighborhood Tours, and the Modernism Week Show House: The Christopher Kennedy Compound, are also incredibly admired. With these events offering tours inside midcentury modern originals, newly constructed “new century modern” designs, and current architectural masterpieces, it’s not surprising that these events have become so well-liked among guests.

Included in Modernism Week is Eichler Day on Feb. 18, featuring homes that were built based off the plans of developer Joseph Eichler. Having built over 11,000 homes in California between 1949 and 1966, Eichler was a pioneer as he hired well known architects, such as Anshen and Allen, to design the plans and homes he built. Eichler was also seen as a visionary in that he built his homes with the middle class in mind. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, the signature style of an Eichler home is plenty of natural light, as his homes were built with the intention to “bring the outside in.” He did so with the addition of skylights and large windows where residents could view atriums, and other features such as gardens and pools. The style of these homes is now referred to as “California Modern,” and are still admired today.

Brought to Palm Springs by KUD Properties, the exclusive builder of licensed Desert Eichlers in Palm Springs, the Desert Eichlers are made up of five unique homes. Each carefully created in order to preserve Eichler’s original plans, the only minimal changes made were to meet code requirements, “We’ve tried to think about what he would do in every way. For example, the wood siding on the exterior of the Bay Area homes wouldn’t fare too well in the desert heat. A smooth coat stucco was the alternative with some fry reglet metal detail in the theme of the original wood siding,” says Troy Kudlac, Founder and Broker at KUD Properties.

While building the Desert Eichlers, KUD Properties worked closely with the community, “We’ve made all efforts to use products from the local community and have teamed up with many businesses, photographers, artists, etc. to provide a product that the community is proud to call their own,” says Kudlac.

Of the five homes, Desert Eichler #1 has become the most popular, as it was the first 21st Century Desert Eichler. Completed in Feb. 2015, the new owners purchased the home within hours of it being on the market. Not only was it featured on Eichler Day that year, it was also written about in publications like the LA Times. The house comes complete with an atrium and circular pool that has breathtaking views of the mountains.  

On Eichler Day, guests are able to visit Desert Eichler #1 along with the two most recently built Desert Eichlers. This event will include a panel and film in addition to the tour of the three homes. Troy Kudlac will speak in the panel along with other Eichler experts. After the panel, the film People in Glass Houses: The Legacy of Joseph Eichler will be shown and immediately followed by the tour.

As a festival loved by both tourists and locals alike, Modernism Week brings midcentury modern aficionados an exciting 11 days to commend and observe this vintage style. All the while, donating the money raised back to the community. Giving its guests the opportunity to visit homes that are otherwise not available to the public, Modernism Week is unique, charitable, and a “cultural phenomenon.”  

Party Central: During Modernism Week, nightly parties will be taking place. With a mix of Palm Springs locals and tourists from around the world, the parties are always entertaining and fun. The parties are typically hosted in private midcentury modern homes and buildings not usually open to the public, “The generous property owners welcome Modernism Week guests to their great vintage culture-inspired events, often with authentic music and cuisine of the 1950s and 60s, while creating the unique and memorable atmosphere of retro-living and jet set style in Palm Springs,” says Lisa Vossler Smith, Executive Director of Modernism Week.

Home Decor Heaven: The Modernism Show and Sale offer guests a variety of unique items for purchase. The most coveted among these are iconic furnishings such as Eames or chairs and tables designed by Saarinen.

Native Knowledge: From Oct. 20-22, Modernism Week’s Fall Preview is held in various locations in Palm Springs. The preview gives guests a chance to see what Modernism Week is all about with tours, educational events, and receptions that celebrate modernism.

Sinatra’s Estate: During Modernism Week, guests are able to take tours of celebrity homes. Among these is Frank Sinatra’s “Twin Palms” estate, which has become the most popular. “It is a fabulous home commissioned by Sinatra from Desert Modernist architect, E. Stewart Williams in 1947,” says Lisa Vossler Smith, Executive Director of Modernism Week.

KUD Properties Inc.
73700 Hwy 111 Ste 7
Palm Desert, CA 92260

800 E Bogert Trail
Palm Springs, CA 92264

Troy Kudlac
Modernism Week: Beautiful Midcentury Homes in the Desert

Website | + posts

Born and raised in Orange County, Chelsea is a local through and through. A true foodie at heart, you can find Chelsea face first in a grilled cheese or in line for the latest food craze. A Magna Cum Laude graduate from Chapman University, she is excited to bring her passion for writing, editing, and all things trendy to Locale Magazine.

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