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“If You’re Designing Modern, Use the Past”: William Haines’ Interior Design at Sunnylands

Sunnylands, the renowned desert estate, preserves a vast custom-made furniture collection designed by William Haines. Learn about Haines, Sunnylands’ interior design, and his influential designs.

$18 (1 hr)

Category: Presentation, Talk, Annenberg Theater

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Leading Hollywood actor and later famed bon vivant interior designer, Charles William “Billy” Haines (1900–1973) was the chief instigator behind the creation of the incomparable Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage. Haines reunited with architect Archibald “A” Quincy Jones for the project, having worked earlier together on the design of the Frances and Sidney Brody estate in Los Angeles (1949).

For Ambassadors Leonore and Walter Annenberg’s winter home, Haines created a timeless interior design for Jones’ steel “Mayan” tent in the sand. Completed in 1966, over 400 individual pieces of custom-made furniture with high-end fabrics and leather coverings, including exotic lamps were designed for rooms throughout the estate, nearly all of which remain in their original placement today.

This presentation debuts detailed photographs of the furniture collection, the largest remaining Haines interior design, in situ, by photographer, David Loftus. The panel will introduce William Haines, how Haines’ modern furniture designs are based on antique silhouettes, how Haines used variations on a theme to wrestle Sunnylands’ oversized expanses into welcoming, human-scale spaces, and how color, texture, and integrated storage strategies inform the interiors throughout.

This presentation aligns with the first-ever museum survey dedicated to William Haines for a specific commission, now on view at Sunnylands Center & Gardens from September 2023 through June 2025, Variations to a Theme: William Haines at Sunnylands

Panelists include Sunnylands archives staff, Frank Lopez and Anne Rowe, catalog authors and curators of the exhibition; and Patrick Dragonette, of Dragonette Limited, who contributed to the exhibition catalog as an expert on Haines’ canon, and who will contextualize the Sunnylands interiors within Haines’ broader career of famous clients and interiors. 


Things to Know
Ages 12 and older.
The entrance to the Annenberg Theater is located behind the Annenberg Theater Box Office, adjacent to the Palm Springs Art Museum's North Parking Lot.
Ample free public parking is available in the multi-level public garage across from the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Handicap parking is available.
This event is wheelchair accessible.
The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.

Event Check-in Location
Annenberg Theater
Palm Springs Art Museum
101 N Museum Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92262
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Photo Credits: David Loftus – Photography courtesy of Sunnylands

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