Not even epic rain and gray skies can diminish the sun-kissed Midcentury Modern architecture on display at Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the annual celebration of 20th century design highlighted by poolside parties, celebrity home tours — including the House of Tomorrow, a futuristic Midcentury Modern home where Elvis and Priscilla Presley famously honeymooned — and Rat Pack tributes.
This year’s event, which takes place Feb. 16-23, includes more than 300 events and branches out to include nearby Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, Cathedral City and the popular tourist destination Joshua Tree.
Here, we offer 10 highlights that, as of our deadline, are still available. For a list of all events and to purchase tickets, go to modernismweek.com.
1. The House of Tomorrow (a.k.a. Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway) home tour
If you’ve already toured the futuristic House of Tomorrow (or posed for a selfie outside the Vista Las Palmas abode), you’ll appreciate the newly renovated Alexander Estate, where the Presleys famously honeymooned in 1967. The house, which has been updated, sold a few months ago for $5.65 million. Originally designed by Modernist architect William Krisel as a custom family home for Robert and Helene Alexander of the famed Alexander Construction Co., the futuristic house was built in 1960 and features four circular “pod” wings, a sunken living room with a beaker-shaped fireplace hood and floating hearth, stone walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. Note: The house is not ADA accessible. 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 16-21. $55.
2. The Shag House home tour
Josh Agle, the artist popularly known as Shag, has collaborated with homeowner Brandon McBurney and designer John-Patrick Flynn to transform a Midcentury Modern pool home — originally designed by Desert Modern architects Palmer and Krisel for the Alexander Construction Co. — into a fully realized Shag painting. While the layout of the 1958 four-bedroom home remains the same, the rest has been updated for modern living, including a breezeway that has been converted into a swank party lounge. Feb. 18-19 (sold out). 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 20, 24-26. $35.
3. Modernism Week-featured home tour: Hi-Sun
Tour the personal residence of designers Kevin Kemper and Howard Hawkes of H3K Home+Design (we featured another one of their Midcentury Modern makeovers in 2018) in the historic Vista Las Palmas neighborhood. The 1963 home was designed by Charles Du Bois and built by the Alexander Construction Co. as a model home for the Las Palmas neighborhood’s Summit Estates development. Located within walking distance of Palm Springs’ main drag, the home features many original Midcentury Modern features, such as a stunning stone fireplace. The designers plan to be at the home tour and will answer questions about the home’s history and offer tips on how to bottle the Midcentury Modern vibes in a 21st century home. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 17-20; Feb. 24-26. $35.
4. Ocotillo Lodge tour
Tour all eight units in the historic Ocotillo Lodge, a former hotel-turned condo, designed by Palmer and Krisel in 1957. Once owned by singer-actor-cowboy Gene Autry and Lakers owner Jerry Buss, the complex features uniquely designed 525- and 590-square-foot units that include private or semi-private outdoor spaces and shared grounds originally designed by noted landscape architect Garrett Eckbo. 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 18. $95.
5. Exclusive tour of the Kellogg Doolittle House in Joshua Tree
This one’s a splurge. In a rare opportunity, the 1988 Kellogg Doolittle House, which is prized for its organic architecture nestled into the rocky edge of Joshua Tree National Park, will be open to the public. Tickets are $1,000 and include motor coach transportation to and from Palm Springs, a gourmet boxed lunch and a guided tour of the property with the homeowner, craftsman John Vugrin and Lisa Vossler Smith, chief executive of Modernism Week. No interior photography permitted. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 20.
6. Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale
Antique malls can be all over the place design-wise, which is what makes the Midcentury Modern-focused Modernism Show & Sale at the Palm Springs Convention Center so much fun. The 22nd annual event will feature more than 120 exhibitors from around the country who will offer vintage furnishings, accessories, jewelry and more. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 18; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 19; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 20. Tickets are $30, good for return entry all weekend, and include a show catalog.
7. Cavanagh adobe house tour
At its core, Modernism Week is about historic preservation. And that is why you’ll find the 1922 Cavanagh Spanish Adobe — one of the oldest surviving homes in the Coachella Valley — listed on the tour itinerary for this year’s Modernism Week. The home in Indian Wells was built by brothers Albert and Hubert “Bert” Cavanagh, the latter of whom was a successful date rancher and onetime mayor of the town, from thousands of handmade adobe bricks that were produced on what was then a 20-acre site planted with date palms. The home features hand-hewn natural timbers and handmade roof tiles; Tunisian tile similar to those you’ll find at the Santa Barbara Courthouse; and Monterey Revival antiques and Early California collectibles. 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 24. $60.
8. Sustainable home tour in the High Desert
Tour six homes that are powered exclusively by the sun, and in some cases are completely off-grid, in this self-driven home tour in the High Desert. Note that some of the homes are located on dirt roads and are not ADA-compliant. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 25. $70.
9. Vintage trailer show
In one of Modernism Week’s signature events, visitors get a chance to peek inside one-of-a-kind renovated vintage trailers, campers, buses and motor homes and meet the owners and craftspeople, who will be on hand to discuss the restoration process. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26. $25.
10. Double-decker architectural bus tour
View the exteriors of some of Palm Springs’ most famous Midcentury Modern homes from the top of a double-decker bus. Tour highlights include William Krisel’s House of Tomorrow, Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House and E. Stewart Williams’ legendary “Twin Palms” estate, the former residence of Frank Sinatra. Other architecturally significant buildings on the tour include Palm Springs City Hall, St. Theresa Parish and the Palm Springs Visitors Center. Note: Seating is on the upper deck only. $120. Various dates.