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Built for Health

Author Lyra Kilston presents on health-focused architecture and design in the early 20th century in southern California. $10 (1 hr)

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Sunlight used to be considered medicinal, a substance doctors prescribed in measured daily doses. Such early 20th-century ideas about health also impacted housing. Dark, crowded dwellings were thought to breed illness, while new open plan interiors, broad glass windows and indoor-outdoor spaces invited sunshine and offered a curative atmosphere. As doctors and architects began collaborating on European sanatoriums, the results ranged from eccentric sun-chasing devices to now-famed modernist landmarks. These health-focused designs soon shaped mass and individual housing and even furniture. When imported to the West Coast by immigrant architects, they influenced California Modernism as well. Two homes by Richard Neutra for clients who worked in the medical and fitness fields offer fascinating case studies. His "Health House" for naturopathic doctor and charismatic health guru Philip Lovell in Los Angeles and his Palm Springs house for Grace Miller, a teacher of (often nude) women's calisthenics, potently link local modernism to its European roots in salubrious design.

Lyra Kilston is a writer in Los Angeles, focused on architecture, design, and urbanism. Her new book, Sun Seekers: The Cure of California (Atelier Éditions, January 2019) looks at three different moments in Southern California history and the many eccentric newcomers, from fervent nature-cure healers to modern architects to barefoot vegetarian hermits, who built up the region’s renown as a center for healthy, natural lifestyles long before the 1960s. 

Immediately following the presentation, Ms. Kilston will be signing copies of the book Sun Seekers: The Cure of California.


Things to Know

Immediately following the presentation, Ms. Kilston will be signing copies of the book Sun Seekers: The Cure of California.
This event is for all ages.
This event is wheelchair accessible.
The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.


Event Check-in Location

Modernism Week CAMP Theater, 230 Museum Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

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Photo Credits: Health House by Richard Neutra, completed 1929. Photo: Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)., Mensendieck school, Oslo. Courtesy of the National Museum of Norway.


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