Do your clients want mid-century replicas when they build in Palm Springs? How do you encourage them to go for something in the modernist idiom, but a contemporary home?
We've been lucky with clients that tend to already approach us with their own understanding of the need for an updated version of a similar, historically modern look or aesthetic. This is not that hard of a sell for us in most cases. A lot of our clients get the need to update and move into the next phases of today's standards with regards to energy efficiency, building material longevity, and systems.
We heard a couple times in town that when Frank Sinatra was building a house in Palm Springs he wanted a Georgian design. So architect E. Stewart Williams showed him one, but he also showed him the plan for a modern home, which Sinatra ended up doing. Do you ever have to do that kind of educating?
Fortunately, we do not have to do that level of educating. Most of our clients that come to us already know the basics of what we do. I've heard that story about the Frank Sinatra house also and have always wondered why he went to Williams for the design if that’s what he wanted.
How do you build within a town like Palm Springs while continuing to innovate?
This is more of the educating that we have to achieve. A lot of clients request forms and ideas that reflect something from the past. It takes a fair bit of diplomacy to push for newer ideas, although we've been lucky in this regard also. Most of our clients are willing to push into new ideas if they can visualize them. We then seem to do a lot of work to show them through graphics and 3-D models.
Do you feel any kind of pressure when building in Palm Springs? A pressure to get it right?
We do feel the pressure. The education and awareness level of modern architecture is extremely high in this area. We have a lot of local historic and modernist organizations who push for both a preservation of modern design and push for excellence in new design. They also reward architecture in both preservation and new work each year (we just won one of these this year for “new contemporary work”). This town is also a Mecca for modern architecture that is only growing in popularity each year. A lot of new ideas in modern architecture and living began here and people recognize this. Our attendance at our modernism week seems to grow exponentially and tours sell out faster then we can print tickets. I see Palm Springs building and backgrounds in international print and media about once a month. So in short, I feel like there are a lot of discerning eyes on our projects and we cannot afford to take that lightly. If design is important, it's paramount here.