Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 Set to Inspire, Educate, and Have Some Fun

Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 [Sponsored]

Indian Canyons Midcentury Modern Home

When it comes to mid-century design and architecture, there’s no event in the world like Modernism Week in Palm Springs. As the 2024 Modernism Week gets ready to kick off on February 15, the globally recognized organization has outdone itself once again. If you love architectural design (both inside and out) and decorating, then this is the event for you. As the design festival gets more robust each year with new tours of exclusive, private homes opening their doors, more public parties, and engaging social events (just to make sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously), the overall experience isn’t complete until you’ve immersed yourself into the incredibly motivating Modernism Week speaker series.

Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 [Sponsored]

Annenberg Theater Audience — Photography Mark Davis

Did we lose you at “speaker series”? Did it elicit memories of dry, intimidating, or drab lecturers blathering on about topics in technical jargon that we definitely determined we’ll never, ever use in real life? Worry not, that’s not what Modernism Week is about. The very essence of Modernism Week is about the celebration and fostering of mid-century design and architecture and often connects that historical brilliance to contemporary thinking in architecture, for everyone.

World-renowned architect (and MW 2020 Keynote presenter) Daniel Libeskind once said, “Architecture is not based on concrete and steel, and the elements of the soil. It’s based on wonder.” Do the curators of Modernism Week and the amazing talent they attract know their stuff? You bet. They also know that of the over 100,000 attendees, most will not be professionals in interior design or architecture. Most are hobbyists who love the era and find joy in connecting it to contemporary ideas and applications. The MW Speaker Series is designed to help foster that excitement and, let’s face it, as a design and architecture hobbyist, do you really have time to read all the design and architecture books that pique our interest?

Think of it this way, Modernism Week is like putting all your social media “likes and saves” on pure oxygen and then hopping onto a MasterClass session to tie it all together. Most talks are only one hour which gives you plenty of time to grab a cup of coffee and browse the most amazing design books at the MW HQ (called CAMP), take a home tour (or two), and still have plenty of time to get ready for any one of the amazing evening events or awesome restaurants in Palm Springs. The incredible part is that most of the talks are less than $20 to attend and some are even free.

Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 [Sponsored]

Courtesy Obama Presidential Center

Given that there are over 70 unique topics to choose from, where should you start? Well, how about a one-our talk on the Birth of Modernism by Alan Hess, an incredibly knowledgeable and engaging architect and historian. Or how about a one-hour nugget on how Albert Frey’s famous Aluminaire House influenced American Modernism given by equally engaging architect Leo Marmol?  Do you know all about the Obama Presidential Center under construction on the southside of Chicago?  Founding partner, Tod Williams, FAIA of the architectural firm Tod Williams Billie Tsein Architects|Partners (TWBTA), the firm selected as the designers of the Center following an extensive international competition, is here to tell the inspiring story of collaborating with the Obamas to create a new kind of presidential library.

Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 [Sponsored]

Truman Capote in Palm Springs — Photo Slim Aarons Getty Archives presentation

Need some interiors inspiration? If you love Slim Aarons photography like so many of us, check out Shawn Waldron, who oversees the Slim Aarons Archive at Getty Images, and author of “Slim Aarons: The Essential Collection” He will give a 1 hour talk about Aaron’s archive of hundreds of photographs taken in Palm Springs, most rarely seen until now. And did you know that the Sunnylands estate has over 400 pieces of custom-built furniture by designer William Haines? Everything was made with high end fabrics and leather coverings including exotic lamps designed for rooms throughout the estate, nearly all of which remain in their original placement today. Sound dreamy? Trust us, it is.

Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 [Sponsored]

Photo – Alex Marks Judd Foundation

Part of the magic of Modernism Week’s 100,000+ attendees from around the world is that it draws in both hobbyists and professionals and the two worlds exist in lovely harmony because everyone appreciates a good dose of educated inspiration. There are so many influences around the world that shaped the modernism movement and it’s so interesting to learn how it came to be, how to think about it differently, and how you might apply it to your home or work environments. A lot of Modernism Week attendees may not have heard of all the architects, designers, artists, homes, and buildings, and that’s actually great. We’re all going to learn together which is what makes Modernism Week really fun and very approachable.

What’s also fantastic is that the curators behind Modernism Week develop great relationships with other highly reputable organizations around the country and the world that are also dedicated to the preservation, education, and inspiration of Modernism.  Natascha Drabbe, Executive Director and founder of ICONIC HOUSES, an international nonprofit network that connects the most architecturally significant 20th century homes from around the world open to the public as house museums, will give an overview of some of the most famous home museums in their network along with some hidden gems. Get ready to plan your next vacation! Robert Beyer, treasurer and board member of the prestigious Judd Foundation, opens the doors to legendary postwar era artist Donald Judd’s living and work spaces at 101 Spring Street in New York City and Marfa, Texas and Peter McMahon, Executive Director of Cape Cod Modern House Trust, entrusted to save and restore the Outer Cape’s exceptional modern architecture, and their efforts to save Marcel Breuer’s summer house from destruction.

Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 [Sponsored]

Photo courtesy of Courtesy Architecture Sarasota

A bit closer to home are two spotlight presentations on mid-century modern design in Sarasota, Florida. Marty Hylton, the Executive Director of Architecture Sarasota, will discuss the resurgence of the Sarasota School as a new generation of designers look to transform the Florida architectural landscape. Jonathan Parks, AIA, based in Sarasota will help us understand the work of two world renown architects, Paul Rudolph FAIA and Charles Moore FAIA, and their work not only in Sarasota but also their influence on his own practice.

Modernism Week highly recommends combining any of the tours with some of the Speaker Series events to get the most out of your experience. Hear the stories behind the shapers of Modernism, how and where it needs to be preserved and the ideas connecting it to contemporary design and architecture. You may just walk away with a few new connections of your own!  Complete schedule and tickets at

Marketing executive Lisa Swift divides her time between her midcentury modern Indian Canyons home in Palm Springs and a historic loft in San Francisco.  An avid fan of Modernism Week, she loves nothing more than to spend her days attending as many presentations and talks as possible, being among the first to shop the Palm Springs Modernism Show at the Preview Party for the best of midcentury and modern design, and, of course, the Modernism Week Opening Night Party, and a few other cocktail parties here and there!


Image Sources

  • Modernism Architecture Sarasota: Courtesy Architecture Sarasota
  • Modernism Week 1: Palm Springs Modernism Week