Desert Modernism | CHENG Design | sustainable, emotional, timeless design

Desert Modernism

Palm Springs has been called “God’s waiting room,” and George Wharton James, its first historian, said in Palm Springs, “it is easy to forget the activity of American life, and all association with the occidental world, and imagine oneself in the heart of the Sahara.” It was to this desert retreat, one hundred miles east from Los Angeles, that visionary Modernist architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra came to build a monument in the desert. The structures they built — Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House, Twin Palms by E Stuart Williams — came to define a new form in American architecture: Desert Modernism. These structures were characterized by slatted metal walls creating shaded breezeways, flat roofs, muted exterior colors, large expanses of glazing, and shaded outdoor spaces. Like other Modernist styles, Desert Modernism is an architecture that seeks to connect inside and outside, indoor and outdoor, the fabricated human world with the natural, organic world. Neutra’s goal, which became the cornerstone of the aesthetic, was to make homes not only memorable but also allowed its owner to “endure its comforts.”