Bear World MarketHome & Interiors

Modern Bear Home Launches

Modern Bear is the brand created by Travis Smith & Chris Bale. It is the convergence of amazing mid-century modern design and hot bears! Sounds like a crazy match, but if you have met them, or have read their book  “A guide for the Modern Bear: A field Study of Bears in the Wild” you will instantly get how it works. 

Both Chris and Travis are based in Palm Springs which is a hub for Mid Century architecture and an annual destination where bears come to play at IBC.  The boys are now extending their brand by creating Modern Bear Home, a real estate service that sits perfectly with them and in Palm Springs.

I had the pleasure of catching up with them both recently and to tell me all about why they created Modern Bear Home. 

Interior Design by Travis Smith/H3K Design – Photo by Kelly Peak

Richard Jones: Wow Travis and Chris, you are now taking your skills to the next level and have your own realtor brand – tell me how that all came about?

Chris Bale: I’m already a Realtor in Palm Springs and the high desert area. I work for the Paul Kaplan Group, the highly successful only non-corporate boutique real estate company in Palm Springs. My boss has actually been dying to help us jump-start a branded Real estate offshoot of Modern Bear, and here we are! Travis has organically garnered so many followers for Modern Bear’s lifestyle page that it seemed like a natural extension. I think more branding in the form of signage and services will follow. I like to look at things carefully and patiently build on them, Plus we are all fortunately busy as it is!

Travis Smith: We wanted to make looking for a home fun and not overwhelming!  With our search engine, it’s not a bunch of pressure and spam messages, we just want peeps to find the most fabulous home for themselves that they can!  And it also ties into our passion for the Palm Springs lifestyle, Mid Century Modern houses, and my interior design work at H3K Design!  One of our Modern Bear Home agents can help you find a house, and I can help you furnish it, perfect combo!

Interior Design by Travis Smith/H3K Design – Photo by Kelly Peak

RJ: What will make Modern Bear Home different?

CB: Firstly, we are actively marketing to the demographic that Modern Bear social media serves; Architecture lovers, many who happen to be gay bearish types. Secondly, over time we will be working on an aesthetic to differentiate our branding. That is currently being brainstormed in another book we are working on as Modern Bear. 

RJ: Are you only in Palm Springs?

The Coachella Valley cities (Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage) and the Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree area as well technically. Down the road we may expand the brand into another area, but again we’re not rushing. This area is special to us.

TS: The Joshua Tree area is hot and being called “the next big thing.” At H3K Design, we’ve already designed three homes out there in just the last year!  L.A. hipsters discovered it a few years ago and now is a good time to invest there before it gets too pricey!

RJ: What do you think of the Housing Market in the area

CB: Having worked in Real estate in Los Angeles and Phoenix, which are huge markets, this area is special because of its mid-century housing stock and its relatively uncrowded feel in comparison to the rest of Southern California. People want to spend part of their year or retire here! This a special second home market that is pretty stable because people want to be here and the housing stock is limited and unique.

TS: It’s all about the huge amount of Mid Century Modern era homes here, Palm Springs really has become “the world’s capitol of  Mid Century Modernism!”  This is a very unique bubble here because of all that and Palm Springs’ expanding reputation as an international vacation destination.  

Interior Design by Travis Smith/H3K Design – Photo by Kelly Peak

RJ: What do you feel is the continuing appeal of Mid Century Modern?

CB: The style is taking its rightful place along side Victorian and Craftsman styles, you see this in the Home Depot aisles and with stores like West Elm and Rejuvenation catering to preservation-minded homeowners. Sure, the early adopters and aesthetic vanguards are onto the next things such as Post-modern, Brutalism, or Memphis style, but Mid Century’s classic style is here for good and growing in popularity still because it is rooted in classic Japanese post and beam simplicity and letting natural light in.

TS: I think that many of the iconic furniture designs from that period work well with different interior design styles.  You can easily put Eames dining chairs around an old distressed farm house table and it looks amazing.  The style is easy on the eyes, it doesn’t get in your way when you’re decorating a room. I’m so lucky that I get to design entire homes in this style here, I’m not sure I could have the kind of specialized career I have anywhere else!

Interior design by Travis Smith/H3K Design – Photo by Kelly Peak

RJ: What more can we expect form the coolest bears we know?

CB: I mentioned earlier a book project that’s in development, but we are also hard at work producing the PopulArt events at International Bear Convergence (February 7,8,9,10, 2019) and the renowned annual Modernism Yard Sale Feb 24th 2019, at the end of Modernism Week. 

TS: I’m very excited about our new design-related book concept! Chris is super busy with his real estate career here, and I love my job as Lead TurnKey Designer at H3K Design. We have a fabulous team of designers and design a lot of Mid Century vacation homes here, where we furnish and decorate the entire house, along with stocking the kitchen and all of the amenities!  Because the vacation scene here is so huge, so is the vacation home rental market!  And they all need to look fabulous, and we can make that happen!

For more on Modern Bears work in Palm Springs head to these sites:

H3K Design:

Modern Bear Home:

Modern Bear Home Facebook:


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Richard Jones

Richard is the Co-Founder of Gray Jones Media, the parent company of Bear World Magazine, and was the magazine's creator and editor for its first three and half years. He is busy developing the business in many other directions, but loves coming back to contribute when he can.

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