By Heidi Simmons
Modernism Week concluded its ninth year with over 40,000 visitors from 20 countries. A non-profit organization, Modernism Week is all about “Cool. Iconic. Modern.” Their objective is to celebrate and foster an appreciation of midcentury architecture and design, as well as contemporary thinking, by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living.
There are 11 days of fun and colorful festivities that ranged from architecture to fashion. This year Modernism Week added something new: The Christopher Kennedy Compound. The show house added an exclamation point to what Modernism Week is all about!
The Kennedy house, 444 E. Santiago, is located in the older established community in the Canyon Country Club Estates. The homes were built throughout the 60s and 70s around the private 18-hole golf course. Bob Hope and other famous folks were often seen golfing there from the living rooms that faced the greens. These homes exemplified the Palm Springs’ indoor and outdoor lifestyle.
“I bought the house to live in it. Then I thought Palm Springs should have a showcase home like Pasadena, The Hamptons and Dallas,” said Christopher Kennedy, local interior designer and mastermind behind the beautiful show house. “Palm Springs is such fertile ground. We have great architecture, we have design enthusiasts, and we have great charities. It seemed like a natural thing to do.”
Kennedy bought the property last September. Where most show houses can take a year or more, Kennedy and his team remodeled the property in just five months. Kennedy has been based in Palm Springs for nearly ten years. His work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Dwell, Elle Décor, California Homes, the Los Angeles Times and Luxe Interior+Design. The latter sponsored the event in conjunction with Modernism Week. The house will appear in their summer issue.
“It’s not just about me,” said Kennedy. “We have a designer in every room. I called my famous design friends from all over the country and they all said ‘yes.’ It’s a true designer showcase.” The house has four bedrooms and five bathrooms in 2,823 square feet.
Participating designers made each room stand out. HGTV’s Lori Dennis of the “The Real Designing Women” remade the front terrace. Local modernist artist Trina Turk designed the pool patio. Los Angeles based Woodson & Rummfield’s House of Design, fashioned the living room. Patrick Dragonette created a fantastic den, Jium Ho furnished and styled the dining room, Celerie Kimble shaped an amazing master bedroom and Kennedy designed the kitchen and baths.
“I have been in Palm Springs since the beginning of Modernism Week. We have grown together. I watched it explode,” said Kennedy. “When I conceived of having a showcase as an official event for Modernism Week, I knew it would guarantee an audience.” Kennedy believed if he could dovetail the show house with Modernism Week, it would certainly make a difference.
“The goal was to raise $100,000 for Modernism and other architectural preservation efforts,” said Kennedy. “My dad taught me ‘if not you, who? And ‘If not now, when?’”
The Christopher Kennedy Compound was open for seven days during Modernism Week. The first day almost 100 people an hour went through the beautifully redone house. Vanessa Kogevinas, project manager and producer of the event, estimates there were at least 4,000 who took a tour of the property.
“A successful project comes as a direct result of the sum of its parts. From designers to the sponsors to the production team to the marketing and beyond,” said Kogevina. “As a producer, my greatest satisfaction comes from being able to positively juggle and balance the many facets of show house production and nurture them into a true success.” Kogevinas was the show house producer of the Greystone Manson in Beverly Hills in 2008, 2011 and 2013. She has produced a total of 6 high-end interior design show houses. Two have been charity design projects.
Manufacturers that contributed $50,000 worth of materials became Platinum sponsors. Some of the companies included were Lamps Plus, Sherwin Williams, Aran Cucine, LaCantina Doors, Modern Home, Neo Metro, Pirch, Crestron and Crossville.
Cosentino supplied the kitchen counter tops. The Dekton is made of quarts, glass and porcelain and is heat, scratch and strain resistant. The material can look like wood, but isn’t on the market yet.
Gessi supplied the bathroom fixtures. Their long, flat showerheads create a lovely flow of water. First Atrium’s windows were throughout the property. LaCantina created the bi-fold kitchen windows that spanned the counter top. It opened up to the pool and mountain views. Innovative materials were used everywhere in the house.
Matthew Cate, a math teacher from Los Angeles, was enjoying the house. “I like to see what the designers are doing,” said Cates. “I do a lot of home improvement and it gives me ideas.” Cate often comes to Palm Springs for weekend getaways and has participated in Modernism Week events before. “This is a very exciting addition.”
The Christopher Kennedy Compound has taken a vintage house and has once again made it a modern Palm Springs home.