Mid-century modern design takes center stage this February during Palm Spring’s Modernism Week, illuminating savvy renditions of the iconic style through architecture, art and fashion. The picturesque Southern California city has historic roots in design, where a boom in modern architecture swept through the land in the mid to late 1900’s, and celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand drew attention to the locale. The upcoming annual event is an experiential tour through a memorable era in time; shaping a contemporary culture emblematic of the past.
This year, we have our eyes and ears pressed to California native, author and interior designer, Christopher Kennedy, who will once again debut the Christopher Kennedy Compound: Modernism Week Show House, a dynamic experience taking visitors through a stunning show house with appointed rooms individually designed by several notable interior designers. Previous show houses have included the multi-faceted work of Trina Turk, Thomas Lavin, and Kelly Golightly. The event aims to inspire the preservation of this style of living for both industry experts and design-lovers alike, and one property in particular leaps to the top of our list as a must-see.
La Vie en Rose, is the impeccably designed private residence renovated by Kennedy and his team. Built originally by the local Palm Springs firm, Alexander Construction Company in 1958 and designed by Charles Dubois, La Vie en Rose is one of the featured properties during this week of modernism that reveals dreamy interiors with definitively modern amenities. The breezy open floor plan connects a classically designed Mid-century home to textured fabrics and bold walls throughout. Kennedy’s effortlessly cool aesthetic is derived from his roots in California, as he describes himself as a Golden State boy through and through.
“Sprawling ranch houses, drapes blowing in the breeze, afternoons in the pool: these things are in my blood and in my soul,” he says. He has developed quite an aptitude for cohesive and contemporary design that is seen in his West Coast empire that includes a luxury line of upholstery and cabinetry, an artwork collection for Wendover Art Group, and even outdoor pottery designed with Habitudes. His knack for design can be experienced in his Palm Springs boutique, where vibrant aesthetics meet eclectic tableware and accessories.
“Palm Springs is like Fantasy Island—it is a magical place where people feel their cares wash away. It is a place of unparalleled beauty, and a place of acceptance and tolerance. It is a place where people have come for healing for more than a century. Add to all of that the fact that celebrities have vacationed here for more than 60 years, and you have a magical elixir that has a hold on the national consciousness. That combination of beauty and glamour combines with ease and real-ness is something that I strive for in all the projects and products I design.” To see Kennedy’s perspective applied first-hand, we recommend swinging through the perpetually sunny land of Palm Springs to see La Vie en Rose firsthand where 30-minute guided tours are available. Guests can even shop the looks seen throughout the home in Kennedy’s retail store, letting you take your inspiration back home.
La Vie en Rose—a French phrase that translates to ‘life in pink’—is a 3,600-square-foot property that evokes the quintessential color scheme of the desert’s lavender and pink-hued landscape.
La Vie en Rose—a French phrase that translates to ‘life in pink’—is a 3,600-square-foot property that evokes the quintessential color scheme of the desert’s lavender and pink-hued landscape. Between the locale and the architecture, Kennedy was immediately enamored by the home’s authentic design style and chose to use this home as an example of what a true Palm Springs residence can look like today. Its stone façade blends against the San Jacinto mountains beyond Rose Avenue where the home sits in the renowned Vista Las Palmas neighborhood. With a full cosmetic remodel, Kennedy’s team renovated the kitchen, the flooring, all four bathrooms and upgraded the back doors to seamless glass and wood folding and pocketing doors from California brand, LaCantina. Kennedy’s designs aim to provide a feeling of simpler times, something he believes is a collective want in humanity. “Mid-century modern design is about a connection to the environment, honesty in buildings and doing more with less. It is also about the life behind the style. It is about an era when families sat down to dinner together; dressing their best and putting their best foot forward; it is about thank-you notes and setting the table; it is about grace, manners, and common courtesy.”
It is about an era when families sat down to dinner together; dressing their best and putting their best foot forward; it is about thank-you notes and setting the table; it is about grace, manners, and common courtesy.”
Stroll inside to find original, vaulted wood-paneled ceilings flanked by textured and brightly-colored walls and fit with colorful furniture. Floral and plant motifs pop up through the uniquely decorated rooms; expect to see cactus planters on tables and budding poppies on throw pillows. Imbued with color, the rooms boast a rainbow of shades including the living room wall with Dunn-Edwards Paints 2019 Color of the Year ‘Spice of Life’ along with tiger-orange Eames-inspired dining chairs. When asked about his intention for the feel of the home, Kennedy says, “I wanted the homeowners to feel inspired and happy, but also relaxed and comfortable. I want them to feel like they are staying at a fabulous resort that they get to call home.”
The master bedroom speaks to this in spades, with green, palm-leaf wallpaper reminiscent of the design-savvy Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, along with a white standing tub poised next to a gleaming glass wall one would expect at a luxury hotel. The master also houses gorgeous drapes that fall in lavender waves floating behind a tall wicker chair that is fit for Bohemian royalty. The other three bedrooms can be found behind frosted-glass doors, bedecked with abstract bedding and bronze sculpture lighting to give it all a subtle glow. White orb lights illuminate bedside tables bringing a futuristic feel to the gray and burnt orange wallpaper and bathrooms are equipped with marbled showers and geometric mirrors for an unexpected look.
A fully upgraded stainless steel kitchen is branded with a wall-length glass window above the sink and prep station and a glittering linear light fixture balances delicately above the center island. Textures arouse the senses in the living space, where a cow-hide rug and chartreuse chairs invite a casual night in. The folding glass doors lead you outside to a palm-fringed backyard with an in-ground pool, sun loungers, a perfectly manicured lawn and a luxurious gazebo pinned against the jarringly steep mountains beyond.
At dusk, the yard becomes etched in pastel tones inviting guests to lounge al fresco in the sunny vibes of the desert. Kennedy says that a luxury home encompasses beauty, comfort and ease. It should be a space to relax; to come traipsing in from the pool to simply plop down on the indoor sofa, without a care. “I use practical materials, durable fabrics, and excellent home automation and technology that is practically invisible to owners.” He wants to achieve simplicity within the home, one of the most distinguished elements of Mid-century modern. And La Vie en Rose is just that. A seamlessly designed historic space with both multifaceted interiors and a saturated complexion that reminds us of the impact of damn good design.
Modernism Week will take place from February 14 to 24 in Palm Springs. Tickets for the event and tours of La Vie en Rose can be purchased here.
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