Sunnylands was the Versailles of the Space Age. The pinnacle of midcentury style, there is no other house like it anywhere: a stately home with a giddy pink roof designed by A. Quincy Jones, one of California’s most important architects; and the only completely preserved interior by California’s great decorator‑to‑the‑stars, William Haines.
Walter Annenberg built his fortune on the racing form and TV Guide; his wife, Leonore, was raised by Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn, her uncle. In the early 1960s, they flew their Learjet to Palm Springs, bought two hundred acres of desert in nearby Rancho Mirage, and created their modernist dream house at the center of their own eighteen‑hole golf course. But like the dukes and marquesses of England—Walter Annenberg had learned well as American ambassador there—the couple were really building a seat of power, where politicians, movie stars, and corporate leaders could meet, relax, reflect, make deals, and run the world—all with nobody watching. For four decades an invitation to New Year’s at Sunnylands was the ultimate social prize. Their best friends, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, would land Air Force 2 on the greens. Frank Sinatra was married there. Richard Nixon’s golf clubs still sit in the men’s locker room. It was a vortex of plaid pants, bushy sideburns, Scaasis, and unimaginable power.
With its pastel green and yellow interior, its dazzling collection of Impressionist paintings, and long, low sofas that look like vintage Cadillac convertibles, Sunnylands today is a passport to the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, kept as fresh as the day it was built. In Palm Springs, the mecca of midcentury modern architecture, this extraordinary survivor is considered the undisputed masterpiece. Getting a ticket to visit does not come easily: every newly announced tour sells out within hours—at $40 per ticket.
With this book you will be able to examine the drawers and the closets, the Flower Power wallpapers, the intricate quilting and embroidery on Haines’s candy‑colored furniture, the dinner‑party seating charts, and the photo albums depicting a vanished Slim Aarons world of famous faces as they are not usually seen: relaxed and unguarded. Illustrated with some forty contemporary photographs, personal snapshots, letters, and other ephemera, and with a foreword by Architectural Digest contributor Michael Smith, Sunnylands will be on the coffee table of every fan of midcentury design, and everybody who loves the fashions of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
Sunnylands, America’s Midcentury Masterpiece
By Janice Lyle
Foreword by Michael S. Smith, Photography by Mark Davidson
256 pages 10 x 12 in. , portrait, More than 200 color illustrations
Hardcover with jacket
US $60 / CAN $75
PUBLISHED: Oct, 2016