de LaB headed to Palm Springs for Modernism Week last month, hosting a weekend of design confabs at CAMP, the festival’s central outdoor pavilion. The day started out with a conversation between KPCC’s Alex Cohen and architect Leo Marmol of Marmol Radziner, who had quite possibly the best story ever about how he even got into architecture. (It all started with a crush.) Marmol, who began rehabilitating and breathing new life into modernist architecture in Palm Springs even before modernism became cool again, gave the audience an inside look at what it took to transform the original E. Stewart Williams bank building into a civic center to house Palm Springs’ architectural heritage. The last detail remaining will be reproducing the original sun shades for the back side of the building which thieves absconded with many years ago. Shades not withstanding, the Architecture and Design Center has been open since November 2014, attracting a national audience of architecture students, professionals, scholars, and aficionados. The current exhibition is Bauhaus twenty-21, Gordon Watkinson’s photographs of 12 of the most iconic achievements of Bauhaus architecture.
During the afternoon session, Palm Springs native and restaurateur/entrepreneur and uptown district impresario Tara Lazar took the stage with recent transplant-turned-local Jaime Kowal. Originally from the Great White North, Kowal came to Palm Springs for a family vacation and never left. She now owns The Amado, a much-lauded micro hotel, and Bootlegger Tiki and Ernest Coffee, two adjoining hangouts in the uptown district. They spoke with travel journalist Eric Hiss about how Palm Springs has changed, and took their turns at future casting. Lazar and her team are about to open up a new modern steakhouse in South Palm Springs. Based on that, South Palm Springs might be the next exciting desert nabe to take off. Kowal predicts more of the same; new, smaller scale, urbane developments throughout Palm Springs to cater to a growing audience of young, discerning urbanites seeking refuge from the cold, or outrageous real estate prices. The idea is that they’ll all come to play, then they’ll stay.
Photo credit: Jaime Kowal Photography; Palm Springs Museum of Art; Julia Manchik