American architect Cleo Baldon (1927-2014) was a pioneering figure in the worlds of furniture design, architecture, and landscape design. Baldon is recognized for bringing the concept of outdoor aspirational living to residences across Southern California. Her inspired furniture designs are at the top of collector’s lists, while her pool structures and outdoor living environments are still being admired today. Born in Leavenworth, Washington, Ms. Baldon came to Los Angeles to attend Woodbury University. She profoundly influenced California’s outdoor living and swimming pool culture and has been credited for famously introducing the lap pool concept to California back in 1970.

Cleo Baldon - Lounge Chair for Terra

Cleo Baldon Designed Over 3,000 Swimming Pools

Cleo Baldon established the Venice-based landscape design firm Galper-Baldon Associates, a landscape architectural firm responsible for creating stunning outdoor environments across Los Angeles. She was passionate about transforming bland yards and backyards into lush, inviting spaces. Her partner, Sid Galper was the horticulturalist in the design practice. Baldon claimed she didn’t understand plants – that was strictly Sid’s territory. Throughout Southern California, Baldon created more than 3,000 swimming pools and was granted a design patent on the contour spa with seating designed to provide maximum comfort underwater.

(Above) Extremely rare, iron and leather lounge chair, a hand-crafted studio piece from Baldon’s furniture company Terra, c.1960s. An excellent example of Baldon’s emphasis on quality construction hand-forged iron, leather and fir wood. Also known as the “saddle pack” chair with overstuffed armrests draping over the structural frame, referencing the designer’s inspiration from the American West. This design element is also seen in works by Sergio Rodrigues and Percival Lafer. Background fabric from Perennials – Far West collection in the Baja West pattern/Sol colorway.

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Modernism Week in Palm Springs is a captivating celebration, a vibrant homage to Mid-Century Modern design, architecture, and the leisurely lifestyle that defines this iconic era. Nestled in the sun-drenched oasis of Palm Springs, this event is more than just a showcase; it’s an immersive journey through time and creativity, where the sleek lines of Modernist architecture meet the boundless spirit of mid-20th-century optimism.

As you stroll through Palm Springs during Modernism Week, you are transported into a world where design and architecture are not mere forms of expression but a way of living. The city, renowned for its rich concentration of impeccably preserved mid-century modern structures, has become a living museum. Each building, from the iconic homes to the commercial structures, tells a story of a time when simplicity, functionality, and harmony with the surrounding landscape were paramount. Architects of the era, like Richard Neutra, John Lautner, E. Stewart Williams, and more, are celebrated for their visionary works and for crafting a legacy that profoundly shaped modern living.

Photo: Kim Hayden Holt

Iconic Architectural Home Tours

The event’s tours, whether self-guided or expert-led, offer a rare opportunity to step inside private residences and landmark buildings that are usually hidden from public view. Imagine walking through these classic mid-century modern homes, where the seamless integration of indoor and outdoor spaces exemplifies leisure living. Take a twilight tour of the Frey House II, perched on a hillside, where the use of glass and space blurs the line between the home and the rugged desert landscape. Head to the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood for a tour of the newly renovated Alexander Estate. This incredible property is known as the House of Tomorrow and was the oh-so-stunning hideaway where Elvis and Priscilla Presley spent their honeymoon in 1967. Next, it’s over to the Deepwell neighborhood, where you can tour one of the first homes built in 1954 by architects Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison of the notable Wexler & Harrison architecture firm.

Photo: Kim Hayden Holt

Talks, Lectures and Books Signings

Modernism Week brings multiple speakers and presentations on various subjects from Bar Keeps: A Collection of California’s Best Vintage Cocktail Napkins, Essential City: A Futuristic Exploration of Desert Cities, Preserving the Bauhaus Legacy on Cape Cod: Saving Marcel Breuer’s Summer Home, John Wayne, Hollywood and the American West to The Direction of Sculptural Ceramics in Architecture by legendary Stan Bitters.

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Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or the perfect place to gather with friends and family, a Los Olivos wine-tasting weekend and a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley checks all the boxes. The just over two-hour trip from Los Angeles lands you in this peaceful and picturesque small California town that is a haven for wine lovers, foodies, and anyone who wants to play rancher for the day.

Photo: Kim Hayden Holt

The area is home to some of California’s finest wineries, tasting rooms, and notable restaurants. Offering everything from amazing farm-to-table cuisine, Bar Le Cote, Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe, and Industrial Eats (in Buellton only 10 minutes away) to unique experiences feeding ostriches and emus at Ostrichland USA and horseback riding along the rolling hills offered up by Vino Vaqueros. Take a walk down Grand Avenue to explore the area’s charming boutiques, taste some of the local produce, and stop by the Carhartt Cabin for a glass of estate-grown Pinot and hang with the locals. Whether it’s oil from Olive Hill Farm or wine from one of the many wineries and tasting rooms, the epicurean in each of you will be delighted while visiting this area filled with so much we love about California.

Downtown Los Olivos wine-tasting weekend
Photo: Kim Hayden Holt

Don’t miss the Los Olivos General Store at 2900 Grand Avenue, right in the middle of town. Here, you can stock up on oh-so-wonderful smelling candles, curated bath and body items, and books on living the ideal rancher lifestyle, complete with recipes, cocktails, and cutting boards. Have a seat in one of the welcoming Adirondack chairs and take in all this quaint piece of paradise has to offer.  

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Imagine beautifully handcrafted artisanal furniture made from sustainably grown reforested wood – maker Masaya & Co is one of those unique brands making a difference. Based in the lush Central American country of Nicaragua their furniture products are purposely made with wood grown in reforestation projects coordinated through their sister company Maderas Sostenibles, which has been working diligently to convert deforested land into productive plantations for over 9 years. They have planted more than 1 million trees in that time, working with local farmers and growing trees on deforested cattle lands, capturing carbon and replenishing landscapes.

Masaya & Co hand crafted artisanal furniture. Sustainable Furniture From Seed To Seat

The Future Looks Bright

Masaya & Co is vertically integrated and believes that wood is the best renewable building material from the nursery to the sawmill to the finished product. Precious hardwoods such as teak, mahogany, pochote, rosewood, and Spanish cedar possess shorter growth cycles and higher market prices than northern timbers, making them a more sustainable option for the future. The company is passionate about its work and committed to reversing the effects of unregulated deforestation. Many times, forests are clear-cut without thought or environmental consideration; cost and profit become the driving factors. Masaya & Co is focused on creating beautiful elements for living while preserving the environment for future generations.

Photo: Masaya & Co

Renewable Prefab Homes

Masaya Homes, a subsidiary of their company focuses on prefabricated dwellings. ADU’s (Accessory Dwelling Units), art studios, guest houses and work-from-home spaces that are beautifully designed. The homes are completely constructed of teak, a renewable resource that can be cultivated and naturally replenished without damaging the forest. Most of the species of wood used by Masaya & Co can be planted and harvested multiple times during a human life span, making it an ideal building material for prefabricated units. There are currently 6 models available, from the 120-square-foot Studio Uno to the expansive 1200-square-foot Sonoma model. The entire structure including floors, wall cladding, doors and millwork is constructed from sustainably grown teak.

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Architect – designer Eileen Gray was born into an aristocratic family in Ireland in 1878. She studied at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London before moving to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. Gray quickly assimilated into the city’s bohemian circles and was exposed to the progressive ideas that would define her work. Although she didn’t attend the influential Bauhaus school in Germany, she shared many of its philosophies and ideologies.

Although Gray began her career as a painter, she soon turned to design, creating both furniture and interiors. In Paris, Gray began working as an interior designer and soon established a reputation for her sophisticated and modern aesthetic. Gray originally focused on an Art Deco design aesthetic, creating stunning pieces utilizing high gloss lacquer. A technique she passionately studied under the Japanese master Seizo Sugawara.

Eileen Gray Architect Designer

After becoming interested in architecture in the 1920s, she quickly shifted towards modernism and what came to be known as the International-style. Gray began a relationship with the French-Romanian architect Jean Badovici. The pair would eventually design a house together in the south of France, villa E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the Côte d’Azur. At this time she began experimenting with furniture design, creating iconic pieces like the “Bibendum” chair and the “Adjustable Table.” Many of her pieces combine a chromed steel frame with some type of upholstery, most notably leather. Her furniture was highly sought after by the wealthy elites of Parisian society. She soon became one of the most celebrated designers in the city. Patrons and collectors alike are drawn to Gray’s designs which are characterized by their simplicity, beauty and functionality from sleek side tables to rugs and elegantly upholstered chairs. Her furniture and objects are true works of art. Each piece is carefully designed and crafted to perfection. Throughout her career, Gray remained committed to innovation and creativity.

Eileen Gray Architect designer  of the Bibendum chair

The Bibendum chair, designed in 1926 is a modern classic designed by Gray. The chair is made of curved tubular steel and leather and has a playful feminine character about it. It is curvaceous and comfortable with the shape reportedly influenced by the iconic overstuffed Michelin man character. The black-lacquered wood Block Screen, designed between 1922-1925 is a true work of art and showcases Gray’s ability to craft a modern piece influenced by Japanese decorative arts. Movable horizontal rows of panels are joined by steel rods creating a sculptural yet functional piece. The iconic screen is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and is available for purchase through ClassiCon.

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