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Design Miami 2022: Arthur Elrod The Golden Age of Palm Springs

Slim Aarons famous 1970 photo, Poolside Fossil, shot around the pool of Neutra’s Kaufman house left out a ubiquitous and essential Palm Springs figure who was most definitely also present that day: the interior designer, Arthur Elrod. He had just finished a major renovation for the house’s new owner, Nelda Linsk, the woman in yellow.

Converso’s inaugural Design Miami/ 2018 exhibit explored the work of Albert Frey, who came to envision the arid landscapes of the Coachella Valley as a Utopian site in which to pursue his purist architectural ideals. For Design Miami/ 2022, Converso revisits a slightly later Palm Springs now at the apex of Desert Modernism through the work of Arthur Elrod. Arthur Elrod, through the countless Desert interiors he created, in many ways became the essential figure linking Modernist architecture, Hollywood celebrity, and post war American wealth into a new Golden Age that made Palm Springs the playground that it remains today. Elrod’s own John Lautner designed home, Southridge, portrayed in the James Bond film, Diamond’s are Forever, has become the ultimate symbol of the desert as modernist architectural laboratory.

Converso will present an interior inspired by Elrod’s 1968 work for Henry and Nancy Ittlesons, intimate friends of Barbara Marx Sinatra and major supporters of the Met. Included are their red lacquer desk, Apple green chest and expressive, oblong metal and glass low tables sitting along monumentally long upholstery forms by William Armbruster. Elrod’s work was changing by the late 60’s as William Raiser was welcomed to the firm from Raymond Loewy’s East Coast office and introduced a more purely modern, harder edged aesthetic focused on strong graphic texture and color culminating in the great Johnson Publishing Corporate interiors in Chicago: an equally intense, almost psychedelic wall mural by Richard Mann surrounds an Elrod specified steel fireplace surround for the William Cody designed Goldberg residence; Two floating, massive, wall mounted Rex Lotery easy chairs create an intimate seating nook; and a cast bronze bell/ lighting assemblage by the desert visionary architect, Paolo Soleri, hangs over all. A faceted Paul Evans credenza and works by Albert Paley, Gae Aulenti, Marcello Fantoni, and Georges Jouve complete the presentation.