Airstreams at Modernism Week, Palm Springs CA

Well, very very cool.  I had expected a small turnout to view the vintage trailers on exhibit at the ACE Hotel, but I was absolutely floored by the response of the Modernism Week attendees.  We were only eight trailers (three vintage Airstreams, one new Airstream brought by a local dealer, one Silver Streak, two canned hams, one Spartan, and one other I never did identify).  Despite the limited number of trailers to view, hundreds of people bought wristbands for the privilege of coming inside and talking with us.

Tours were supposed to be at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. but there was really almost no letup, so despite an assistant I recruited, there was not much possibility of a break.  I didn’t mind.  It was terrific to see so many people enjoying the Caravel, and frankly the people-watching was excellent. Modernism Week attracts an enthusiastic design-oriented crowd, so the show was as entertaining for me as it was for them.

I had put up a signboard that explained the basics of the Caravel, but many people didn’t read it.  So much of my day was spent answering the same questions, like a tour guide. Here are the answers:

  1. It’s 17 feet long
  2.  1968
  3. We’ve owned it 7 years.
  4. Yes, it was restored, but this is how it was originally designed.
  5. No, that’s a refrigerator, not a dishwasher.
  6. Yes, we really do camp in it.  (People seemed to think it was like a show car, only taken out for display but never slept in.)

When things finally calmed down I joined some local folks for a quick tour around  the older part of Palm Springs, where the classic movie stars and numerous other famous people lived.  We happened by Elvis’s Honeymoon House, which can be toured, “Casa de Liberace” near downtown, Raymond Loewy’s house, and various others.  Many of the more exotic homes are well-hidden from public view by tall walls, security gates, and extensive landscaping, but modernist design homes are everywhere in this part of town, so there’s no problem spotting great architecture from your car.

Next year, I’m coming several days early so I can enjoy all that Modernism Week and Palm Springs has to offer.  This has been a great event. You can expect to hear more from me about the 2011 event later this summer …


  1. says

    Glad to hear that there was a good turn out for the event. :) I hope you had plenty of water on hand because it sounds like you did a lot of talking thoughout the day. Meeting people and people watching is always a lot of fun. I hope Emma is feeling better! :(

  2. Tom says

    I’m envious – as an owner of a mid-century-modern ranch (as much of a money pit as the Argosy Minuet), I’d love to make it to Palm Springs.

    Funny you get asked about a “dishwasher” – we got the same question about our T@B teardrop’s little 12v frig. It kinda shocked me – our T@B doesn’t have a bathroom, but people think it has a dishwasher?!?

  3. Jim Colbert says

    What a terrific event! (My father was a distinctly modernist architect, and I am presently renovating my grandfather’s mid-century modern catalog house north of Houston.) Are reservations required? Is it possible to register for next year’s event? Any and all information much appreciated!

    Jim Colbert