Palm Springs: Where Modernism Is Celebrated

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“It’s the Disneyland for mid-century design,” says our friend Craig Wroe, a New York interior designer and home stager. He was talking about Palm Springs, Calif., during its annual “Modernism Week” held every February, and he sounded like he couldn’t wait to get to his own kind of magic kingdom.

Craig and his husband, real estate agent Danny Pelosi, are mid-century enthusiasts whose Jersey City home is a celebration of design of chic Eisenhower-era color, sleekness and playfulness. They drive a 1954 Chevrolet Delray Club Coupe.

When they invited us to join them on their Palm Springs pilgrimage of mid-century modern architecture, art, interior and landscape design, I thought it would be a pleasant side-trip to a vacation my husband and I had planned for Los Angeles. But little did I realize that we, too, would be swept up with the thousands who descend on this little jewel of a town in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California, which every year is turned into a kind of Comic-Con of mid-century madness.

I found myself responding innately to the clean lines, seductive shapes and cool colors of the optimistic post-war design era — and perhaps tapping into a bit of childhood nostalgia as well. The use of steel, plastic and molded plywood has a fresh, light-loving and decidedly American look that eschews formality and fussiness but still has character — and lots of fun.

It’s an easy drive to Palm Springs from Los Angeles, (107 miles) — the distance between Meriden and New York City — and it’s also doable as a side trip from San Diego (123 miles) or even Phoenix (260 miles). At the height of the winter season, direct flights are offered out of New York City on Jet Blue and United Airlines. You can also get connecting flights out of Bradley on American, United and Delta.


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