By Jason Hall
Albert Frey was a Swiss born architect. He earned his architecture degree in 1924 and soon started work under Le Corbusier. In 1930, Frey brought his modernism influences to America and began working with architect A. Lawrence Kocher. After building The Aluminaire with Kocher, the pair moved on to a project here in Palm Springs.
The 1934 Kocher-Samson building was Palm Springs introduction to modernism. It is a dual use building with initially, offices on the lower floor and an apartment on the upper floor. The offices have since been converted into a commercial space housing Bon Vivant. The apartment always stayed an apartment, but through the years lost most of the look of its 1934 glory. Some doors had been widened, and all of the wood paneled walls had been white washed.
Using photos from the Frey archives, the apartment has just been meticulously restored to its original 1934 era glory. During the restoration process, all of the panels were removed, sanded, and sealed. The original panel screws which could be saved were cleaned and reused. The doors were restored to their original sizes. The kitchen was gutted and after sourcing metal cabinets from a home just above Elvis’ honeymoon home, remodeled exactly to original specs. The drawer pulls and cabinet handles couldn’t be sourced, so they were 3D printed. The long missing room dividing sliding wood door was rebuilt from scratch using salvaged and sourced pieces of mahogany panels. The list goes on…
After the restoration was complete, the apartment was furnished with a mix of modern conveniences and period correct furnishings including a built in headboard updating from the 30s style dual double beds to a California King. The outside patio was outfitted with artificial turf and shade canopies making it a perfect place to enjoy breakfast or evening cocktails while soaking up breathtaking views of the mountains.
The Kocher-Samson apartment is available to rent via Air BnB and VRBO. Modernism Week here in Palm Springs is wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying it. Be sure to go to stayatthefrey.com to see more photos and get a bit more info about staying at the building responsible for bringing modernism to Palm Springs.