If anyone is responsible for Palm Springs’ transformation into a mid-century modern furniture mecca, it’s Courtney Newman. Newman turned his hobby of collecting vintage pieces at estate sales into a profession when he moved from Los Angeles, in 1999, to open Modern Way (745 N. Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-320-5455; psmodernway.com). At that time shops catered mostly to the tourist set, carrying T-shirts and bikinis. Today his store is in the heart of the Uptown Design District, a five-block stretch of North Palm Canyon Drive that draws collectors from around the world. (Unless noted otherwise, all venues in this article are located along this street.) Newman incorporates pieces by big-name designers, such as Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair, but he also mixes in no-name pieces with complementary appeal, like a more affordable Danish chair and ottoman.
Form and Function
At Flow Modern Design (No. 768; 760-322-0768; flowmodern.com), interior designer Brigitte Lehnert has a motto: “If we wouldn’t want it in our own house, we don’t carry it at the store.” The shop does in fact feel like a well-appointed foyer in someone’s home, complete with a mint-condition art-deco Paul Frankl cabinet and a Lucite dining table by Charles Hollis Jones. Flow also has a large selection of vintage jewelry, including stamped Valentino earrings and a Pierre Cardin gold-tone cuff.
Architecture buffs are well served at The Shops at 1345 (No. 1345; 760-464-0480). E. Stewart Williams, whose first residential commission was for Frank Sinatra, designed the historic 1955 building. One of the stores, Towne, carries mid-century items, like a “space age” Vladimir Kagan chair, but you may also find a butler’s chest from the 1800s.
Christopher Anthony Ltd. (No. 800; 760-322-0600; christopheranthonyltd.com) proprietors Tim Prendergast and Chris Mizeski employ their East Coast aesthetic when selecting top-condition American and European vintage furniture as well as contemporary sculptures and ceramics. You can splurge on a rare set of sabre-leg chairs and a dining table from British designer T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings or accessorize with American artist Del Williams’s metal-brazed wall hangings and tabletop objets.
Those who want the retro look without the vintage wear and tear should head to Mod Shop (No. 1068; 760-322-8919; modshop1.com) for custom-built furniture and accessories. Mix and match pieces from 15 collections that evoke classic architecture, 1960s whimsy or Old Hollywood glamour. Go bright with a tangerine Marrakech credenza or more subdued with a Neutra walnut-and-brushed-aluminum dining table; or simply grab a brightly patterned throw pillow or textured ceramic vase.
Another pioneer of the Uptown Design District is Trina Turk (No. 891, 760-416-2856; trinaturk.com), who opened her flagship clothing store here in 2002. The well-tailored flowing dresses and bright graphic patterns displayed in a 1960s Albert Frey building make it pretty easy to envision cocktails by the pool. Don’t miss the recently added swimwear and home collections.
Browse among vintage sunglasses used on the set of the 2013 film American Hustle, handblown glassware and fitted Parke & Ronen designs for men at Mitchell’s (106 S. Indian Canyon Dr.; 760-864-1515). This sleek jewel box of a store has fudge-colored walls and curved clothing racks.
Pick up a 1960s Hawaiian tiki jacket for him and a classic shift dress for her at Déjà Vu Vintage Finery (No. 664; 760-699-5365; dejavuroom.com). Gems often crop up, like Versace and Dior sport coats and iconic Gucci handbags.
Beads and Bangles
Matt Burkholz wrote the book (literally) on Bakelite, the durable plastic used to produce colorful jewelry in the 1930s. His shop Route 66 West (No. 465; 760-322-6669; route66west.com) stocks thousands of pieces in all colors of the rainbow. Bangles start at $100 (the geometric and reverse carved are the most prized, as well as the colors red and black). Burkholz also specializes in vintage celluloid and acrylic pieces and contemporary couture. One standout: the 1990s Christian Lacroix signature heart-shaped line.
At first blush Bram’s (No. 461; 760-416-2667) looks like an ordinary antique shop, but jewelry designer Connie Bramoweth’s unique pieces are worth a look. Working with an artist in Vietnam who supplies her with buffalo horn and bone (while causing no harm to the animals), Bramoweth turns out amber-colored chain-link necklaces and white mod earrings with turquoise and lapis lazuli flourishes. Her latest project: pendants made from sterling silver Victorian-era buttons rimmed with 14-carat gold.
Don’t be deterred by the line of people outside Cheeky’s (No. 622; 760-327-7595; cheekysps.com; lunch for two, $30*). It’s worth waiting for the organic cheesy eggs and the “bacon flight” with five seasonings. Next door, sister restaurant Birba (No. 622; 760-327-5678; birbaps.com; dinner for two, $45) dishes up delicious pizza and pasta.
There may be a lobster frittata with sevruga caviar for $1,000 at Norma’s (4200 E. Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-321-4630; lunch for two, $50), part of the Jonathan Adler–decorated Parker Palm Springs hotel, but the crispy Belgian waffle with berries and Devonshire cream ($18) hits the spot too.
The minimalist design over at Workshop Kitchen + Bar (No. 800; 760-459-3451; workshoppalmsprings.com; dinner for two, $80) seems out of place in loud and proud Palm Springs, but it’s a stunning backdrop for equally impressive dishes. Start with a specialty cocktail, add duck rillettes and a kale salad, and end with homemade rosemary-apricot sorbet.
You can’t leave Palm Springs without channeling the Rat Pack at least once, so head to Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club (292 E. Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-537-7082; berniespalmsprings.com; dinner for two, $100) for martinis poured at table-side, a sizzling steak with chimichurri sauce and a man of a certain age crooning “Lady in Red” at the piano.
RCI affiliated resorts in Palm Springs include:
Club Trinidad 1096
A family-friendly resort only minutes from downtown Palm Springs. 1900 E. Palm Canyon Dr.
Member Reviews: “Club Trinidad has a nice staff who have always been very helpful to us.”
“We had a great time. We liked that our studio had a full kitchen and private balcony.”
“There’s a wide variety of restaurants nearby. The tramway to Mount San Jacinto is great for hiking.”
RCI TipNot yet ready to travel? Visit RCI.com and use the travel-date filter to see all available vacations for the month you want to travel in. Palm Springs is a great vacation spot all year-round.
For member reviews and additional resort listings, visit RCI.com or call 800-338-7777 (Weeks) or 877-968-7476 (Points). Club Members, please call your specific Club or RCI telephone number.
Non-RCI affiliated resorts:
Parker Palm Springs
Expect stylish decor and rooms with white brick walls and private balconies. 4200 E. Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-770-5000; theparkerpalmsprings.com; doubles from $375 a night
Riviera Palm Springs
A mod 398-room hotel with a lively pool scene. 1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr.; 760-327-8311; psriviera.com; doubles from $129 a night
- *Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: Spring 2015