Published on February 15, 2019

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photography courtesy of Lucy Marie Photography

Love is in the air, and we’re not just talking about Valentine’s Day. Mid-century modern lovers and interior geeks of all walks of life are packing their bags and posting up in the desert for the year’s biggest showcase in mid-century design: Modernism Week.

From now through February 24, Palm Springs, California, will double as a haven for those looking to bask in the architectural glory of mid-century marvels. Home tours are always a must-do during Modernism Week, and this year’s list includes a number of never-been-open-to-the-public homes, including Albert Frey’s Cree House. The Christopher Kennedy Compound and the highly anticipated Desert X exhibition—a series of art and performance installations that span from the west side of the valley to the Salton Sea—are also two big must-sees this year.

To get the scoop on this year’s happenings, we asked designers, locals, and creatives in the industry what they’ll be seeing and doing over the coming days. Ahead, four visionaries share their Palm Springs travel tips for Modernism Week 2019 and beyond.

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Azucar Palm Springs photography courtesy of Lucy Marie Photography

Liz Martin, founder and blogger behind Charleston Weekender

What events and exhibits are you most excited to check out this year?

An Aqualillies synchronized swimming show is my number one must-see by far. They will be performing 15 shows during Modernism Week. Everyone will also be at the ACME x West Elm pool house; it’s all furnished in West Elm and was my favorite part of Modernism Week last year.

Any iconic home tours newcomers shouldn’t miss?

Aside from the Christopher Kennedy Compound, I’m most excited about the Green Gables home, designed by H3K. The owners have added the cutest touches (be sure to take a peek in the kitchen cabinets for a little Andy Warhol tomato soup can moment).

What are your go-to restaurants in Palm Springs?

Azucar Palm Springs is a such a delight for refreshing ambiance and an eclectic menu, and you can’t go wrong with the Holiday House’s Avocado Chicken Salad and a glass of its fabulous rosé. If you want to stay low-key, Frankinbun is a simple and kitschy culinary treat.

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H3K Green Gables House courtesy of Liz Martin of @CharlestonWeekender

What do you love most about mid-century-modern style?

I’ve always been an old-fashioned gal, so I love being surrounded by reminders of another time. The clean but distinct architecture, the color pops, the mid-century party scene with a pool at nearly every home—it’s all just fascinating to me. The simplicity and minimalism of that era are so timeless.

Any tips and tricks for taking great photos of MCM homes?

Getting a shot of the front door is a must. That’s usually my favorite part of the homes. They all have their own distinct personality and colors.

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You can stay in Nagel’s Palm Springs home, Dazey Desert House, by booking your stay through Airbnb. photography by danielle nagel

Danielle Nagel, graphic designer, photographer, and creative behind Dazey LA

What events and exhibits are you most excited to check out this year?

We are excited for The Christopher Kennedy Compound. The show house we saw for fall preview was amazing, and this one is bound to be even more awe-inspiring. During the fall preview, we also attended a lot of the events surrounding the show and had so much fun. The opening party always feels like you’re right out of the vintage photos and SHAG paintings you see depicting the Palm Springs heyday. The synchronized swimming show by the Aqualillies is supposed to be amazing, and we’re really looking forward to it.

Any iconic home tours newcomers shouldn’t miss?

The Wexler steel houses were unique and fun to see. Definitely do a multi-house tour. We did one to benefit a local animal shelter and drove to seven different houses. Each is unique and fascinating. My favorite part is seeing how the owners decided to decorate each home, especially when they incorporate immaculate vintage pieces. The house at the end of our tour had an indoor/outdoor pool connected to the bar and living room—it was unreal. We’re also a sucker for anything done by William Krisel, the architect behind our Dazey Desert House.

What are your go-to restaurants in Palm Springs?

The best dinner spots are Evzin for Mediterranean food, Sandfish for sushi, and Birba for Italian. Brunch at Farm is to die for, great drinks and food in a French garden setting. The new Wexler’s Deli at Arrive Hotel is good and you can dip in its beautiful public pool after. Coffee at Ernest is the best by far and a local favorite. It also has an awesome tiki bar called Bootlegger at night. For photos and interior inspiration, we love Azucar and the Frida wallpaper wall. It actually inspired the gallery wall at our own home.

What do you love most about mid-century-modern style?

Every element of my life is about art and design. I am deeply inspired by vintage art for my clothing label, Dazey LA. This inspiration also spills over into my interior decorating style. There’s something about the bold color palette mixed with both sharp and smooth shapes. So visually pleasing yet also so useable.

Any tips and tricks for taking great photos of mid-century-modern homes?

I recommend bringing a compact mirrorless camera that you can store in your purse and pull out when the opportunity strikes. My boyfriend and I went into the tours with an open mind and we were ready to snap a shot if the right backdrop came along, but we also wanted to enjoy the moment and not carry around a bulky DSLR. I also had so much fun sharing the stories on our Instagram stories where I could show off the layout of the homes.

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photography courtesy of holiday house

Natalie Myers, owner and design principal at Veneer Designs

What events and exhibits are you most excited to check out this year?

I will definitely be exploring the Desert X exhibitions throughout the valley. Also, there is a Palm Springs Door Tour I am intrigued by. It sounds so cute if you’ve been dying to know where all those colorful Instagram-famous doors are actually located.

Any iconic home tours newcomers shouldn’t miss?

Everyone loves a showhouse, and the Christopher Kennedy Compound is the one to see every year. The Desert Axiom House is a beautiful prefab meant to be a living lab. Forgotten Frey gives me all the feels.

Best places to stay in Palm Springs?

Design-savvy hotels with a good pool scene and cool bars include: Ace Hotel & Swin Club, Arrive, Parker Palm Springs, and The Rowan

Best places to eat in Palm Springs?

My favorite spots to grab a casual bite are Rooster and the Pig (get in line early), Workshop Kitchen, El Jefe at the Saguaro, Wexler’s, Cheeky’s for brunch (get in line early), Mr. Lyons for old-school style, and Ice Cream & Shoppe for dessert.

What else do first-timers need to do and see while they’re in town?

Window shopping and sourcing in the Design District shops along the North Palm Canyon Drive. There is also a hike behind the PS Art Museum that is easy to get to.

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The Sands Hotel and Spa is brimming with design moments for a ‘grammable vacation. photography by TIM STREET-PORTER for Sands Hotel and Spa

Raili Clasen, founder and principal designer behind Raili CA Design

What Modernism Week 2019 events and exhibitions are you most excited to attend this year?

I’m going straight to the Desert X Modernism event. I have not been to this art exhibit in the desert and heard last year that it was over-the-top cool. The vintage trailer show is on my list as well. I daydream about doing one of my own and taking off for a cross-country journey. Also, a friend told me about the Outfit Outdo social event, and it sounds like a must—all that color in one room.

Which iconic MCM houses would you urge first-time visitors to check out?

Definitely the Christopher Kennedy compound. I know it is impossible to get Sunnylands tickets during Modernism week, but I’d say it is a must-see in general. The Frey hillside house is iconic. I am in awe of Albert Frey and his vision to blend outside/inside in such a cool, modern way.

How would you describe what Modernism Week is like for anyone who hasn’t been before?

In one word: Fabulous. It’s like color, design, music, and art on steroids.

What are your go-to restaurants and bars in Palm Springs?

For a mid-century throwback experience, Melvyns has stayed true to the ’50s style. It was definitely the chosen watering hole to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bob Hope. If only those walls could talk. For a great outdoor dining experience, Le Vallauris is a classic spot that has been popular for over 50 years. For a more vibrant vibe, definitely try Mr. Parker’s. The waiters are beyond fabulous and it feels more like a cocktail party than a dining experience.

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