This past Tuesday afternoon The Coachella Valley Art Scene was invited to the Palm Springs Art Museum‘s tour of the famous Frey House II for Modernism Week.

I was excited for this particular tour because Albert Frey‘s work is so famously prolific and is a defining style of Palm Springs’s aesthetic.  He is one of the architects to put Palm Springs on the map and attract thousands of people from all over the world to experience desert modernism.
  The Frey House II, created in 1963, was one out of the two homes that he designed for himself to live in.  Even though Frey passed away many years ago, the Frey House II is preserved just the way he intended, personal space that not open to the public.  Since his passing, the only people allowed to tour the home privately are fellow architects, architectural historians and students in the field all interested to learn from outstanding modernist architecture.  So to have the opportunity to explore a home that is typically not open to the public was an honor and an amazing opportunity.
What I found most fascinating about his architecture, particularly his modernist style work in Palm Springs, is how he embraces the desert wholeheartedly.  Even if I can not relate to him on a technical architectural level, I can relate to him as a fan of the desert; of the plants, of the mountains, the beauty in it’s simplicity and it’s solitude.
Starting with where he chose to build the house – on the mountain… this, to me, means and says a lot. Growing up and living in the Coachella Valley these mountains have played a major part in my life.  They are not just a focal point, or a destination, but they are symbolic of my levels of comfort and contentment.  To be able to have a house not just along the mountains of the Coachella Valley, but to have it so high up and so drastically intertwined with the natural elements as Frey chose to do is genius and fascinating to me.
My favorite aspect to the Frey House II was the way he welcomed the massive rock into his home, instead of choosing to so easily just make it an object of desire and build away from it.  I found the way in which his living space wraps around the rock is similar to the way the Coachella Valley wraps around the San Jacinto mountains.
To make the rock feel comfortable and to give the home an even more natural organic look, there are pretty much no walls, only windows.  These windows allow the home to breath a bit and also to replace what would typically be solid walls covered  with paint and art with a view of outside desert’s colors and landscape.  The subtle placement of the yellow desert flowers outside were incorporated into the interior as accents to the bold golden yellow curtains.  Custom furniture with green table tops matched perfectly with the desert brush and cacti on other side of the window pane.  And as you can imagine, the blue ceiling mimicked the always stunning big bright blue Palm Springs skyline.
Walking away from the Frey House II I felt I had grasped a better understanding and appreciation for the art of architecture.  Being able to relate to Albert Frey and his appreciation for the desert made my experience tangible.  Learning about his legacy and being able to first hand explore one of his masterpieces made it memorable.
 
*all words and photos by Sarah Scheideman of The Coachella Valley Art Scene
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Please take a moment to browse through the photos I took at the Frey House II below.  Examples of what I mentioned in my recap are captured there in addition to other attributes of the home that I admired as well.  Enjoy!
If you have any questions, please contact me at sarah@thecoachellavalleyartscene.com

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene
Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 (kitchen that connected to living room)

Albert Frey House II photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

 (photo of kitchen countertop)

Albert Frey II House bathroom photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

(photo from inside his bathroom)

Albert Frey II House rope chairs photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

(an example of preserving the space, original rope chairs designed by Frey)

Albert Frey II House rope chairs photographed by Sarah Scheideman for The Coachella Valley Art Scene

(a self portrait from inside Frey’s bedroom)

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For more information on Modernism Week, please visit:

www.modernismweek.com

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