Palm Springs is officially sizzling again. The fabled Hollywood retreat and cradle of midcentury California modernism is riding a wave of energy and enthusiasm not seen since the city’s postwar heyday. The rumblings of a revival actually started in 2004 when lifestyle designer Jonathan Adler gave the Parker hotel a radical re-think with his trademark blend of mod 1960s and feel-good 1970s mixed with classic Rat Pack style. The Parker helped redefine Palm Springs, recapturing the glamour of those bygone days. It was the bellwether sign that California’s desert oasis was a style trailblazer once more.
It’s similar to The Amado, with six bedrooms, the statutory fire pit, and stunning mountain views
Where Parker led a decade or so ago, Ace has followed, with mellow yoga, dog park and stargazing deck catering to the bearded hipster crowd. Meanwhile, photographer Jaime Kowal is spearheading a new era of micro-hotel hospitality options at The Amado. The Toronto-born entrepreneur visited the mid-century mecca for a Christmas vacation in 2012 and never looked back. With just six rooms, the Amado attracts a clientele of actors and musicians including Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine. Building on that success, Kowal has just launched a new project called The Junipero. It’s similar to The Amado, with six bedrooms, the statutory fire pit, and stunning mountain views near the Uptown Design District. She designed this one using the influence of Spanish Colonial architecture to create a tranquil Mediterranean-inspired retreat. And for the millennials, Facebook millionaire Ezra Callahan, who was one of the social site’s first employees and reportedly walked away with $60 million in his pocket, opened Arrive, his own Chris Pardo-designed modernist 32-room boutique hotel just in time for Coachella.
That Palm Springs is having a style moment was cemented by Louis Vuitton celebrating its 2016 Resort Collection with a fashion show at The Dolores and Bob Hope Estate, a Palm Springs landmark designed by the great modernist architect John Lautner. Some of the world’s most visionary architects moved here to build houses for Hollywood stars in the desert modernism style, developed from the 1920s through the early 1970s.
The Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion reopened to great fanfare at the end of 2014. Located in a 1961 savings-and-loan building crafted by pioneering desert architect E. Stewart Williams and renovated by the Los Angeles firm Marmol Radziner, this classic mid-century international style structure serves as the hub for the museum’s broad range of design-related programming. Architecture buffs should also explore Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House on W Vista Chino, widely considered to be one of the finest works of residential architecture in North America.
From here hang a left down N Via Monte Vista and explore Vista Las Palmas. Developed in the 1950s, look for classic “Swiss Miss” and “butterfly” rooflines and the House of Tomorrow, Elvis and Priscilla’s honeymoon hideaway. Head south and you’ll discover an endless maze of mid-century resorts in South Palm Canyon, including The Parker. Minutes from East Palm Canyon Drive off Araby Road, east of Farrell Drive, is the location for Howard Hughes’s mid-century mini-estate where you can live out all your movie mogul fantasies (sleeps six). It’s also home to Elrod House, on Southbridge Dr, John Lautner’s saucer-like wonder, the Bond villain lair in Diamonds Are Forever and the setting for many a Modernism Week party. C