6.19.2009

Palm Springs - Mid Century Modern

During the last 25 years I've photographed more houses than I care to count. I've always been interested in architecture and interior design so I look forward to seeing what's out there and what is cutting edge in design. Now, I'm not crazy about Mid-Century Modern, so when I received this magazine assignment in Palm Springs, I wasn't all that excited. These houses changed my opinion. Developed by Mark Bodon of Contempo Homes along with the architectural firm - O'Donnell & Escalante, the Alexander Estates houses give a fresh new look to Mid Century Modern.
Alexander Estates was named with a nod towards the Father/Son team George and Robert Alexander who built more than 2,000 modern houses in Palm Springs between 1955 and 1965. Both died, along with their wives, in a plane crash in November 1965. The Alexander's developed a neighborhood now known as Las Palmas. Las Palmas became the weekend get-a-way choice for the "New Hollywood" crowd. Dianah Shore, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe and Peter Lawford each owned an "Alexander" there.
Most of these new houses are also weekend getaways. My first impression was that "These houses are built for parties!" Walls of glass that open up to the outside, Terrazzo floors that hold up to wet feet from the swimming pool and are impervious to spilled wine. Each house has an indoor/outdoor feel.
The weather in Palm Springs can be intense to say the least. I've never known a city where a large portion of the restaurants and shops completely close down during the summer months.
Working there in the summer is difficult. On some days (most) the wind is relentless - shade and protected spaces are a must.
Winter is the best time to visit Palm Springs. The days are pleasant but nights can be a little chilly. The outdoor fireplaces were an important feature in these homes.
Tall ceilings and open spaces make these single story homes feel larger.

All the tile was a bit much for me. I felt like I would go blind after a while in this kitchen.

But, I have to say, I loved the outdoor spaces - Would I buy one? Well no, still not my kind of thing. Did they sell? Yes, most all of them on the very first weekend they were available for purchase.
Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Sotto Il Monte Vineyards

4 comments:

  1. Very hip, very cool, very old hollywood to me! My Grandparents used to live in Palm Springs in the winters....it had such a mod, cool boy vibe!

    Great pics, Ri...Fun job!

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  2. I think they are beautifully photographed by you:) And a visit would be a thrill..a little dinner or lunch by the pool..

    Perfect homes!(For someone else but me:)..I CAN appreciate though..even here.. we have homes that look like that..not the same vegetation.. I still remember the plexiglass chairs at the glass table at one home..an agent moved one and the owner ..did not like that:(
    I would LOVE an outdoor pretty area/firepit etc..The nights are not great for that here:(

    Quelle Belle Vie you have..sooo interesting!

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  3. Hi there! I love Palm Springs and go there several times a year since it is 45 min from my casita. I have fallen in love with it and the architecture of course. You are right I try to avoid it in the summer but even when it is toasty, there is something magical about this place for me. It is definitely an oasis. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs.

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  4. Cara Ry,

    I happen to love Mid-Century Modern. My roots are Scandinavian (danish, Swedish, Finnish) Mid-Century Modern - exteriors as well as interiors. Beautiful photo, Ry. Excited to follow your future posts. Bacione, Ingrid

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