Man behind the merch: Tom Dolle expects his Modernism Week items to sell out — with good reason
By Lorie Palmer
Modernism Week attendees are in for an extra treat this year thanks to a collaborative effort between the organization and a Downtown Palm Springs businesses’ creative director. And if they like what they see, they’ll be able to take it home.
Tom Dolle, creative director at Destination PSP, is the man behind the merchandise with a Vera Neumann theme on sale both online and at Modernism Week headquarters, known as CAMP (Community And Meeting Place), at Hyatt Palm Springs.
The story of how the quickly the collection came to be still has Dolle and others amazed.
When Modernism Week lecture organizer Mark Davis told Dolle there would be a Vera Neumann lecture this year, he suggested it would be a good idea to have some products available.
“Surprisingly, the licensing was available, so we dove right in,” Dolle said. “Mark is a huge admirer of Vera, as am I, so it was a no-brainer.”
Dolle, a graphic designer, formerly ran a design studio in New York City and was a professor at Pratt Institute.
“I helped launch Destination PSP as creative director when they started eight years ago,” he explained. He and his husband relocated here full time two years ago. “I have since been involved with some great rebranding projects, and designed/co-authored the book Glamour Road that will be featured during Modernism Week.”
Dolle said the company had to work quickly to get things in design and production.
“I turned to our normal suppliers. Vera was known for her napkins, tableware, and scarves, but we’re showing how adaptable her work is for products that haven’t been done before,” he said.
Dolle said he has been a longtime admirer of Neumann, especially her early abstract work from the 1960s and ’70s, which the collection is about.
“The brand did a lot of florals and more traditional patterns after that. I have a large collection of her napkins, and am always hunting new ones,” he added. “If you look closely at old episodes of Mad Men — one of my favorite shows — you’ll see several Vera outfits.”
“I’m often juggling many projects at once, and this one happened so fast I’m still trying to digest it,” Dolle admitted. “I’m really excited that I’ve been able to do Vera an honor, by bringing her work back for a new generation. Her work fits perfectly into the Palm Springs lifestyle that we love—colorful, fun, modern, and full of sunshine.”
The company had access to a large digital archive of images of Neumann’s original sumi-e ink paintings.
“I wanted to do them all!” Dolle smiled. “But because they were digital photos, some were not large enough files to be usable, and most were square for scarves, so there were built-in limitations. I chose the ones that would reproduce well and give a good overview of her style.” There were also production limitations since they were images (not line art), so certain products could not be easily done.
“The collection includes four large plush pool towels, two custom canvas totes that match the towels, four vinyl placemats, an ice bucket and two fiberglass trays,” he said. “Everything is printed and/or made in USA.”
Dolle said so far, the collection has been a “smash hit!”
“We will probably sell out during Modernism Week, but we can reorder—and perhaps add more items,” he said.
Dolle said Modernism Week is a great time to show off some of the best cultural assets the area has to offer.
“Our city has an Instagram moment around every corner, and Modernism Week is a great time to celebrate it,” he said. “Everyone who comes for Modernism Week is in a good mood — the sunshine, the beautiful homes, the great lectures, poolside cocktails, the whole Palm Springs vibe.”
Dolle said Vera Neumann’s art plays right into that vibe.
“Her art is exuberant, colorful, joyful, expressive and filled with positive energy. Isn’t that what we all need right now?” he asked.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:
At this moment, some 2,500 students in the Palm Springs Unified School District are classified as “homeless”… living in a car or motel, crowded in with other families or literally on the streets. Aside from the issues brought about by the lack of a permanent roof over their head, a great many of them — a huge number — need shoes.
We’re asking you to help by contributing what you can, as soon as possible, so we can quickly get these shoes. The Fogelson Family Foundation will match up to $25,000 of the contributions.
STAR DEDICATION: The 448th star on the city’s Walk of Stars was dedicated Tuesday at 891 North Palm Canyon Dr. The honor went to Dr. Albert Milauskas, a local ophthalmologist and philanthropist credited with helping to revolutionize cataract surgery in the 1970s. While his Palm Springs practice is believed to have helped tens of thousands locally, he also aided the people of Lithuania when he helped introduce modern cataract surgery there following the fall of the Soviet Union. The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce implements the program and plans to honor Emmy award-winning director, producer, and writer David Lee in March with its next star.
COUNCIL PRIORITIES: Faced with “an astronomical amount of work” for a city its size, Palm Springs elected officials dived in Tuesday evening, attempting to balance multiple competing public priorities, staffing issues, and the need to see immediate results. During a study session designed to help set priorities for the next four months, Council members voiced broad support for tackling the same issues identified by many residents as the city’s most urgent. They directed City Manager Justin Clifton to continue making homelessness and affordable housing for residents of all income levels their priorities. Those issues appeared near the top of a 21-page strategic plan reviewed by the Council. More than 50 priorities are combined under four broad topics in the plan prepared by city staff following “visioning sessions” held last fall. Clifton said Tuesday evening that work is already underway to tackle many of the issues, but much more is needed. He explained that what that looks like is between 10 and 20 additional items on the Council’s meeting agenda during the next eight meetings. CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE STORY.
HIKER RESCUE: A female hiker was transported to the hospital Tuesday with a possible broken leg suffered while hiking on a Palm Springs trail Tuesday. The Palm Springs Fire Department alerted the public at 2 p.m. that emergency responders were on foot to the hiker’s location on the Murray Canyon Trail. The California Highway Patrol was initially set to provide aerial support but canceled due to high winds. At 3:39 p.m., the department said firefighters were able to locate and treat the woman, who they believe might have a broken leg. The hiker was taken to the hospital for treatment, and the cause of the accident was under investigation.
NEW ASSISTANT PRINCIPALS: On Tuesday, the Palm Springs Unified School District Board of Education named a pair of new assistant principals at Palm Springs High School, one of which will serve as the new athletic director. Appointed to the roles were Salam Ramirez and Steven Aviña. Ramirez started her career with PSUSD in 2005 as a teacher at James Workman Middle School before moving to PSHS for two years in 2012, and then Rancho Mirage High School for three years. She was most recently promoted to assistant principal of Nellie N. Coffman Middle School in 2017. Aviña, the school’s new athletic director, started his career in 2011 with Desert Sands Unified School District before joining PSUSD as a counselor at PSHS in 2011. He served as a lead counselor, site English language coordinator, and football and basketball coach. He is also a graduate of the high school.
? Today’s events
Highlights of what’s happening today in Palm Springs. Find complete listings on our community calendar.
- Modernism Week – the city’s annual celebration of all things midcentury modern – continues. Details are here.
- PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal “cafe” drop-in discussion via Zoom at 4 p.m.
- The Palm Springs Unified School District holds its next talk in a speakers series tonight at 5:30 p.m. The speaker is Coordinator of Student Services Lisa Todd.
- The Palm Springs Planning Commission meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. Also meeting at the same time are the Public Arts Commission and Administrative Appeals Board.
- Desert Rose Playhouse’s performance of The Drag has been postponed due to COVID-19. Have tickets? Find out what to do here.
? What to watch for
- Palm Canyon Theatre has scheduled its next performance – Palm Springs Getaway – for three weekends starting Friday.
- McCormick’s 72nd Classic Car Auction is scheduled for Friday through Sunday.
- A teacher recruitment fair for the Palm Springs Unified School District is taking place Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.
- The Palm Springs Black History Parade and Town Fair takes place Downtown on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
- A homeless navigation center discussion is planned for March 3 at the James O. Jesse Desert Highlands Unity Center
- The Richard M. Milanovich Legacy Hike and 5K Run at Indian Canyons on March 12 is open for registration.
- Heart-to-Heart Palm Springs is selling tickets for its March 12 Military Women Appreciation Luncheon. Details are here.