Albert Frey’s Desert Modernism
Architecture & Interiors
If it’s at all possible for an 800 square-foot house to seem decadent, then Frey House II, one of two homes that the Swiss-born architect Albert Frey designed for himself in Palm Springs, California, shows us why. Situated amidst the San Jacinto mountain range that overlooks the desert resort, Frey’s low-slung, horizontal home, completed in 1963, was designed to recede into the rocky landscape, its blend of glass and steel and concrete a mere sliver when viewed from a distance.
But Frey, who reportedly spent years selecting the home’s precise location and examining the sun’s movement upon it, knew that luxury needn’t be defined solely by size or ostentatious materials. He managed to create a modestly-sized, supremely functional home (most everything in the house, including furniture, is built in), using industrial—even humble—materials. It’s only flourish of decadence? Breathtaking views of desert and city and sky, and intimate communion with the natural world—luxuries only made possible when a visionary architect knows what he wants, and precisely how to get it.