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A Modernist Tour of Los Angeles

This blog post was updated on July 28, 2021.

A Modernist Tour of Los Angeles, Flickr: blanco teko

As a former resident of the City of Angels, I find myself missing a lot of things about this dynamic city (but not the traffic!). While living there (and during our yearly trips), my love of modernism inspired me to seek out venues that exemplify and promote modernist aesthetics in Los Angeles. Here are my top three suggestions for sites to visit on a modernist tour of Los Angeles.

Eames House/Eames Foundation

203 Chautauqua Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
The Eames Foundation oversees two historic modernist venues in Los Angeles – the Eames House (Ray and Charles Eames’ private residence) and the Eames office. Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the exterior of the Eames house, although reservations are required (see website). Interior tours (of the stunning first level of the home – a true time capsule) can be scheduled for a fee (reservations and payment are required at least one week in advance). The Eames Foundation hosts exhibitions and events, some of which take place at the Eames office (850 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405) and at other venues in Los Angeles. For more information, click here.

Los Angeles Downtown Modernism
2901 Saco St., Los Angeles, CA 90058
The annual Downtown Modernism show provides an opportunity for design lovers to view and purchase an incredible selection of vintage modern designs. Typically scheduled for the end of March, Downtown Modernism takes place on the Modernica’s (a renowned furniture manufacturer) grounds. It’s a great place to put your finger on the pulse of L.A.’s modern design culture.

L.A. Conservancy
The L.A. Conservancy has done a remarkable job of assembling scholarship and design documentation on modernist culture in Los Angeles. Their Historic Modern Places map allows visitors to browse more than 300 Modern places throughout L.A. County and plan their own modernism tours. The map allows you to organize search results according to major themes (i.e. L.A.’s car culture, technological innovations, mass housing, art) so that you can really customize your tour. The Conservancy also offers Modern Skyline, a series of year-round walking tours that allow visitors to learn more about the skyscrapers, plazas, and public art that characterize downtown’s Bunker Hill.


Photo: blanco teko

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