On Life and Design - Q&A with Christopher Kennedy

One of the biggest initiates of the FWORD is to explore innovative concepts in food, hospitality, art, design and culture and specifically how all of those things help to define the unique desert oasis of Palm Springs.  Our little city is brimming with some seriously talented creators, innovators and entrepreneurs, all working on truly spectacular projects, and after coming down from the dazzling glamour of Modernism Week, Coachella and Zenyara, we wanted to sit down and chat with someone who we felt exemplified the Palm Springs lifestyle. 

We couldn’t think of anyone more fitting than local designer, Christopher Kennedy - who is well known for both his immense design talents and his philanthropic nature. Featured in publications such as Architectural Digest, Dwell Magazine, California Home + Design and the LA Time’s just to name a few, Christopher brings a blend of big-city style and relaxed resort living to his work. But, before we give it all away, let’s see what Christopher Kennedy has to say about life, design, and living, in our little slice of heaven.

“Looking back, I realize that this project was a "big break" and a defining moment for me.” - Christopher Kennedy image credit: Chase Lingberg

“Looking back, I realize that this project was a "big break" and a defining moment for me.” - Christopher Kennedy
image credit: Chase Lingberg

F10 - Who / what are your biggest design inspirations?

CK - The life and style in Palm Spring, to be sure. I love the old photos of celebrities in Palm Springs. They were beautiful and glamorous, but they were also relaxed and on vacation! That idea of beauty and glamour combined with nostalgia and ease is something that I strive for in all the projects and products I design.

I have been drawn to modern architecture since my days in college (I have a degree in architecture) and I spent a summer in Europe studying the Bauhaus and the modern masters. I guess it was fate that I found my way to Palm Springs...

F10 - Describe your style in 3 words.

CK - JetSet Modern Glamour 

We had only spent two weekends in Palm Springs; but as you may know, that is more than enough to fall in love with it.
— Christopher Kennedy
“Christopher + Harley” image credit: Grey Crawford

“Christopher + Harley” image credit: Grey Crawford

F10 - What brought you to Palm Springs?

CK - In my early-mid 20s, I was working in insurance and finance in Los Angeles (I got an MBA after completing my undergrad in architecture).  Needless to say, I was miserable. At that time, my father passed away and my mom got very sick...I realized life is too short not to do what you love. I also had a sweet new boyfriend from Louisiana, who did not care for Los Angeles.  We had only spent two weekends in Palm Springs; but as you may know, that is more than enough to fall in love with it. Palm Springs seemed like a great place to get back to my roots in architecture and design. We knew that David, a nurse, could easily find work here. So, when I was 27, we packed up and moved. To say that I was one of the youngest people in the desert at that time would not be an exaggeration!

F10 - What is your favorite room in your house?

CK - I do love our living room. It has a wonderful two-story ceiling. It's an eclectic mix of many things I love: tonal wallpaper, a 70’s Brutalist chandelier, an 80’s Pierre Cardin bar, Italian modern coffee tables, and more. We have wonderful accordion doors that allow the room to connect seamlessly to the outside. Over the fireplace is a piece of art by my good friend, designer Kelli Ellis. Over the sofa, we have two pieces of art from my collection for Wendover Art Group. I now have over 200 pieces in the collection, which are sold through other designers and retailers around the country. 

But really, I am sure that the bar being in that room bumps it to the top of the list!

F10 - Favorite place to visit or thing to do in Palm Springs?

Midcentury-inspired glamour, with eclectic pieces from just about every decade since the 1960’s image credit: Grey Crawford

Midcentury-inspired glamour, with eclectic pieces from just about every decade since the 1960’s
image credit: Grey Crawford

CK - Do I have to choose just one? My ideal day would involve a hike on Lykken trail in the morning, shopping in the Uptown Design District in the afternoon, and dinner at Mr. Lyons in the evening. Somewhere in there I would squeeze in a little pool time.

F10 - That sounds like the perfect day to us too! What upcoming projects are you working on right now?

CK - We are working on several exciting residential projects including a few homes in Indian Canyons, a gut remodel in Vista Las Palmas, a new build in Andreas Hills, and a home in Thunderbird. We are also starting an exciting new neighborhood development which I can't quite disclose yet.

On the retail side, we are designing several new licensed collaborations, so we are actively expanding our product offerings under the Christopher Kennedy brand. Barware, accessories, tabletop, and wallpaper are all in the works. And I am always changing and improving my retail showroom. Our jewelry and lifestyle items are doing amazingly well -- if you haven't been in recently, come see us!

A vibrant midcentury-inspired dining room in Thunderbird Heights image credit: Grey Crawford

A vibrant midcentury-inspired dining room in Thunderbird Heights
image credit: Grey Crawford

F10 - Is there a defining moment that you can think of that changed the trajectory of your life / contributed to where you are today?

CK - Moving to Palm Springs was definitely a defining moment. Losing both my parents by the time I was in my early 30s was also. Career-wise, I can look back on several people that took a chance on me when I was just starting out -- a chance that they really didn't need to take. I will be forever grateful. Palm Springs is filled with many amazing, creative, and generous people. 

After nearly 10 years of having my firm, I decided to tackle a crazy project as a way of giving back and we created The Christopher Kennedy Compound: Modernism Week Show House. Basically, I brought the idea of a decorator showcase house to Palm Springs. Five years later, we have raised over $300,000 for the Modernism Week charity and, I think, changed the conversation around interior design and renovation in Palm Springs. It's a labor of love and has been a game-changer for me, for sure.

F10 - If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

CK - Be patient but stay focused. Know that what you want will come to you, though maybe not when and how you expect. 

We here at F10 appreciate Christopher for his honesty, sharing his story with us and for gracing Palm Springs with his talents! To find out more about Christopher Kennedy you can view his work here!

Inside Desert X 2019 with Executive Director Jenny Gil Schmitz

 
“Jackrabbit, Cottontail, and Spirits of the Desert” by  Cara Romero  // image credit:  Lance Gerber  *read more about the artist + installation  here

“Jackrabbit, Cottontail, and Spirits of the Desert” by Cara Romero // image credit: Lance Gerber
*read more about the artist + installation here

For many years, the California Desert has been a source of inspiration for artists, musicians, actors, designers and creators from all walks of life.  In 2017, we saw the first installment of Desert X.  A truly unique, awe-inspiring, site specific - contemporary art exhibition, with the Coachella Valley and the California Desert as its backdrop. 

Over nine weeks, Desert X engaged millions of visitors from across the globe via social and digital media channels and received multiple awards for both its education and community programs and partnerships.  Needless to say that when the 2019 exhibition was announced, a sense of anticipation and excitement swept the desert yet again.  One of the things we admire most about Desert X is that it’s a true community experience.  From the installations themselves, to the symposiums, panels, tours and participation of local businesses it represents so much of what makes Palm Springs and the desert a unique place to call home.

As huge fans of the arts and the mission behind Desert X, we were excited to sit down with the non-profit’s Executive Director, Jenny Gil Shmitz, to get the inside scoop on the 2019 exhibition and what we can expect looking forward.

“Dive-In” by Superflex // image credit: Lance Gerber
*read more about the artist + installation here

F10 - What was the initial inspiration / catalyst behind Desert X?

JGS - The idea of Desert X is to bring renowned international artists to the Coachella Valley to reflect on the beauty and wonders of our valley through the lens of contemporary art; and by showing large scale public art projects outside of the traditional institutions such as the museum or the gallery to expose a very large audience to the ideas and stories that these artists are telling.

F10 - How do you select the artists / installations?

JGS - Neville Wakefield is the Artistic Director of Desert X and he, along with his co-curators, invited about 30 artists to discover the Coachella Valley during the 18 months that we had to prepare the show. Eighteen of these artists developed projects that were produced for the 2019 exhibition. The selection is made by the curators but the conditions that the show deals with such as the vastness and diversity of the space, the scale of the landscape or the environmental conditions end up influencing the artists’ projects to the extent that Neville says the desert curates the exhibition. 

F10 - What do you hope Desert X will do for the Coachella Valley?

JGS - I am hoping that Desert X will turn the Coachella Valley into a cultural destination and will make contemporary art more accessible to all of its communities. Armando Lerma, who is a local Coachella artist and has participated in both Desert X exhibitions, told me when he was growing up here he felt as an art orphan, with very little access to the ideas of art history or contemporary art that are generally shown in museums and galleries in major cities like Los Angeles or New York.

“Wormhole” by  Cinthia Marcelle  // image credit:  Lance Gerber  *read more about the artist + installation  here

“Wormhole” by Cinthia Marcelle // image credit: Lance Gerber
*read more about the artist + installation here

F10 - What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting Desert X 2019 off the ground?

JGS - The challenge was to beat the first exhibition in 2017 that was a total success with over 200,000 visitors and media coverage around the globe.

F10 - If you could tell the Coachella Valley one thing, what would it be?

JGS - I would like artists to continue to come to the Coachella Valley to tell their stories and relate to the stories of the Coachella Valley and its communities. 

-

Desert X 2019 ran from February 9th through April 21st.  If you didn’t get a chance to see the installations in person, you can follow their story on social media, check out the full list of artists, installations and images on their website or check out their new podcast available on iTunes! 

Interested in being a part of the next Desert X? Check out their involvement page to see how you or your business can help make it possible.

Instagram // @_desertx
Web // https://www.desertx.org/
Donate // https://squareup.com/store/desert-x-2

Mid - Century Modern - A Style That Never Left

From hosting its own biannual Modernism week to inspiring shows like HGTV’s Desert Flippers, Palm Springs has become well known for its love affair with Mid-Century Modern design and for good reason.

Abernathy Residence by William F Cody, 1962 // image credit: Jake Holt

Abernathy Residence by William F Cody, 1962 // image credit: Jake Holt

Historically, Palm Springs has attracted a huge range of stars, including Liberace, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Walt Disney, Leonardo DiCaprio and more. It’s warm weather, palm tree lined streets and close proximity to LA make it the perfect getaway for celebrities looking for some peace and quiet.  The frequent celebrity visitors helped make Palm Springs fashionable during the 1950’s and attracted visitors from all over the world.  Today, tourism is the leading industry in Palm Springs, generating $1 billion in tax revenues in 2017.

Early celebrity visitors stayed at the Desert Inn, and El Mirador Hotel, opening in 1909 and 1927 respectively.  During the 1930’s and 1940’s celebrities began building second homes in Palm Springs, creating what has lovingly become known as The Movie Colony.  This tranquil neighborhood was home to Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Van Johnson, Tony Curtis, Gloria Swanson, Jack Benny and Frank Sinatra.  Today the Movie Colony is a sought - after neighborhood known for its hip, vintage-glam hotels and cozy restaurants.

Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms - built in the 1940’s, designed by E. Stewart Williams

Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms - built in the 1940’s, designed by E. Stewart Williams

During the 1950’s we saw the development of the Alexander House and the Twin Palms Estates neighborhood.  These developments more than doubled the housing capacity of Palm Springs over a 10 year span.  The aptly named “Alexanders” were spearheaded by architect William Krisel.  His use of standardized building elements, non-traditional rooflines and footprints while integrating indoor with outdoor living, made the “Alexanders” affordable, appealing and highly sought after, even today! 

According to the Independent, “Inspired by the stark desert landscape and modern schools like Bauhaus and the International Style, the architects of the 1950s created in Palm Springs what is now called Desert Modernism - today it's the highest concentration of mid-century modern architecture in the world.”  During the mid 20th century era (1940-1970), there were several notable architects and builders who brought these concepts to life in Palm Springs including, Albert Frey, John Porter Clark , William Cody, David Wexler, E. Stewart Williams, William Krisel, John Lautner, and Richard Neutra just to name a few.

Frey House II, built in and around the natural environment of the San Jacinto Mountain foothills

Frey House II, built in and around the natural environment of the San Jacinto Mountain foothills

Albert Frey, (October 18, 1903 – November 14, 1998) was a Swiss-born architect is largely attributed with establishing the desert modernism style that Palm Springs is known for.  In partnership with John Porter Clark, some of Frey’s most famous buildings include The Cree House II, Frey House I and II, Loewy House, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Valley Station, Palm Springs City Hall, Salton Bay Yacht Club, and the Tramway Gas Station with its iconic flying wedge canopy at the foot of the entrance to the tramway, now used as a visitors center. Frey died in Palm Springs at the age of 95 and leaving behind a legacy and design style that has not only never left, but turned the city into the Mid-Century mecca that it’s known for today.

Sources
Desert Sun // Palm Springs History // Albert Frey // The Independent


Home Inspiration - Bright and Airy Kitchens

Happy Monday!  I went to a photography conference last week in Portland, OR and I'm still coming down from the high of being surrounded by so many amazing creatives.  It was truly inspiring!  To keep the day dreaming going I have rounded up a few bright and airy kitchen spaces that I love!  Although mine looks nothing like these, it is easy to incorporate elements you love from one space into your own.  I love the bright whites and mixing of hard and soft textures.  Wood with metal and leather and slight pops of color!  One day I'd love to have a little breakfast nook in my kitchen with a bookshelf next to it where I can keep magazines and cookbooks!  xo sarah

images via 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /

Inspiring Space - Bright & Modern LA Loft

When I came across this home tour on design sponge I couldn't help but share it here!  To me it represents the epitome of Palm Springs style.  It's bright, airy, modern, eclectic and colorful!  I love that the space is fairly minimal in design but the use of clever pops of color in the plethora of hanging plants, accessories and pillows makes it feel warm and lived in!  The inspiration for this space was "mid century Hawaii" according to owners Jon and Nina Hans, which is clearly noticeable in the design and styling!  I'd love to get my hands on some of those gold-leafed animal plates by Waylande Gregory and the mint green bar stools by woodsmithe! And incase you missed it, check out the use of the Monstera Deliciosa leaves as place mats, such an inspired idea! xx sarah

Mr. Lyons - It's Official, We're Open!

We are beyond elated to announce the opening of our main dining salon at Mr. Lyons, the newest offering from the Foundation 10 family, taking the same attention to detail we've brought to Cheeky's, Birba and Alcazar and bringing it to a new vista on the South end of town.  

Mr. Lyons will provide you with the classic elegance of a fine dining experience from the black and white marble floors and plush velvet seating to the tableside service and we are so excited to finally be sharing it with all of you!  We have always believed in the importance of putting local small farms first which will be evident in the Mr. Lyons menu, where we give steak a conscientious modern update.  With much more to come during the next phases of opening including a casual lounge, a patio and two private dining rooms for special events, we know you'll find the space as beautiful and the food as amazing as we do!

Currently Mr. Lyons will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 - 10pm.  You can make reservations by calling 760 327 1551 or through using open table at www.mrlyonsps.com! 

You can find us
online -
www.mrlyonsps.com
facebook - 
www.facebook.com/mrlyonsps
instagram -
@mrlyonspalmsprings

Don't forget to keep checking back as we share photos, food
and much more over the coming weeks!

*for all press inquiries please email us at pr@f10creative.com

photography by Sarah Dickenson

Home Inspiration - A Designer's Colorful & Cozy Home

What more could you want then a room dedicated solely to entertaining, lounging, and Sunday reading?  This incredibly beautiful and colorful space is the Atlanta home of interior designer Jayme Armour and her boyfriend.  I love the delicate balance of the dark blue hues and the softer pinks and yellows.  Not to mention the gorgeous use of wood to add an organic element to the home as both accent furniture and wall paneling.  Hopefully this is the perfect way to ease into your weekend on this sunny Friday.  If you want to see some more images check out the full feature here!  May you have plenty of time to relax with great company this weekend! Cheers! xo sarah

photography by Sarah Dorio images via