Category Archives: Mid-century modern


A couple months after gushing my heart out over Herb Lester’s impeccably designed, pocket-sized travel maps, an invitation from Mr. Lester arrived at my doorstep, asking if I’d like to prepare a guide to Miami (my go-to destination for many a frigid January). I RSVP’d with a capital “HELL YES!” and promptly set sail for the Floridian coast to more closely investigate both the familiar and the new. It is a spectacular city, an ideal spot for lovers of archictecture, art deco, mid-century modern, and preservation. It’s also home to a large population of Cubans and Haitians, whose restaurants serve mouth-watering sandwiches, stews, and juices made from fruits you’ve probably never heard of. Record collectors will be thrilled by Yesterday and Today’s Records, where you could spend all day flipping through LPs and 45s (all in excellent condition, by the way). I am tempted to divulge all my Miami secrets, but I shall instead direct you to Herb Lester’s site, where you can purchase the Miami guide, so very beautifully designed and illustrated by Javier Garcia. 

Guide to Palm Springs

When Don Draper needed a vacation, he headed to Palm Springs, California–the desert playground for Hollywood’s elite in the 1950s-1960s, and still the hub of what is known as mid-century modern design–a distinct architectural and interior style that favors sleek lines, steel structures, unconventional shapes, and enormous pieces of glass that bring the outdoors indoors. Palm Springs’ preservationists have put up a mighty fight to protect the works of architects Donald Wexler, William F. Cody, and E. Stewart Williams, as developers seek out more space for golf courses and Starbucks. Thankfully the ever-growing adoration for mid-century modern design and frustration with clone-towns has breathed new life into the desert town, and it is lauded worldwide as a rare symbol of the beauty and design America was once capable of. I stumbled upon Palm Springs in January 2011, when I spent six weeks road-tripping from San Francisco to Miami. We checked into the Del Marcos hotel, dined in the old-Hollywood glam of Melvyn’s, rode up to the top of the San Jacinto mountain via the Palm Springs aerial tramway, and attempted to trespass the gates that kept us too far from John Lautner’s space-age Elrod House, built in … Read more

Palm Springs Mix

Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr., or the Rat Pack, are the logical choices for music to enjoy Palm Springs by. Hotel rooms often come with their Greatest Hits collections, and “Come Fly With Me” is always playing by the pool. I’ve included Sinatra (and daughter) in the mix, and Dean Martin’s country cracker “1200 miles from Palm Springs to Texas,” but I wanted to stay light on the Rat Pack and choose other artists + songs that I think capture the mood of the desert. Todd Rundgren’s “Hello it’s Me” may feel more East Coast , but when it came on as I was speeding past a sea of windmills, I was certain it couldn’t sound better anywhere else. They are the perfect match. As is anything by Claudine Longet. And Diana Dors. Even though she’s so English.  1. Santo & Johnny: Sleep Walk 2. Frank & Nancy Sinatra: Something Stupid  3. Diana Dors: Come By Sunday4. Alan Moorhouse: That’s Nice 5. Priscilla Paris: I Can’t Understand  6. Dean Martin: It’s 1200 Miles from Palm Springs to Texas 7. Lesley Gore: A Girl In Love 8. The Walter Wanderley Trio: Amanha 9. Claudine Longet: Run Wild, Run … Read more