Late American real estate developer Joseph Eichler’s blueprints of a 1960 tract-housing design by architects Anshen + Allen were resurrected during February’s Modernism Week in Palm Springs, California, when modern-day developer and broker KUD Properties unveiled only the second home from these plans to be built after Eichler’s death in 1974 (KUD Properties revealed the first around the same time last year). Dubbed a “Desert Eichler,” the show house embodies the signature modernist features that led to Eichler’s cult following—and that are decidedly well-suited for the Southern California climate: The open floor plan is framed by walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, which maximize the home’s exposure to the sunlight and open air.
“His hallmark is the interior courtyard that looks into the other rooms,” said KUD president Troy Kudlac, explaining a key element of Eichler’s contemporary appeal. “It offers both the simplicity and experience of indoor-outdoor living.”
With fellow agent and Eichler enthusiast Monique Lombardelli, Kudlac acquired the licensing to build an entire Palm Springs neighborhood’s worth of Eichler homes, each of which will be updated slightly to comply with contemporary specifications. Kudlac and his wife, Amy, furnished the recently completed show house with Carl Hansen & Søn, a producer of furniture by Eichler’s Danish contemporaries like Hans J. Wegner and Frits Henningsen.
“We found that Eichler and Danish design vibe really well,” Kudlac said. Despite the geographic distance, Eichler’s own embrace of minimalism matched a similar trend in Scandinavia. Carl Hansen & Søn also adopted the ethos of reduction and tidiness but expressed it in warm-colored woods sculpted into sinuous curves rather than with right angles and expanses of glass. Inside the show house, classics abound, including two Wegner designs, the 1944 Wishbone Chair and the 1963 Curve Chair, and Henningsen’s 1954 Signature Chair, all distinguished by their slim profiles and delicately carved or molded wooden frames. “This minimal look means that the furniture doesn’t impede views of the outside,” Kudlac said.
A color palette more in sync with the arid Palm Springs climate tempers the interior’s Scandinavian leanings. The kitchen tiling, textiles, and tabletop accents alternate between the pale yellows and light blues that recur throughout Palm Springs landmarks, most notably in an iconic poolside image of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House taken by photographer Slim Aarons, a recent re-creation of which hangs in the Desert Eichler den.
Although mid-20th century Scandinavian and Californian designs evolved from disparate origins—the Danish seeking refuge from a harsh winter climate and Californians embracing a temperate one—both find a place in Eichler’s houses. And as Eichler’s designs find a new generation of homeowners, modernism wholeheartedly chugs along into the 21st century.