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Alexandra Lange
Essays | Biography | Books | Contact

Lucia Eames, 1930-2014

Lucia Eames, the only child of Charles Eames and his first wife, Catherine Woermann, died on April 1. An artist and designer herself, after Ray Eames’s death in 1988 Lucia Eames took on the not inconsiderable task of preserving the Eames legacy. The 1976 film “The Chase,” starring Lucia, shows a freedom about the Eames House, a freedom translated into the branching ways the Eames legacy will come down to future generations of designers. Lucia Eames was the first generation to learn from them; thanks to her she will not be the last.

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Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories

In Mexico, everyone seems to be Alexander Girard. Not afraid of color, of two colors together, of tiles and stripes, of patterns on pattern, of humble materials made noble by aggregation. Everywhere I looked —  underfoot, on the walls, over the doors — something particular was happening. Design with a small "d" was everywhere, reflecting a culture that seems to understand the small gestures that make a room, a building, or a city special.

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Premature Demolition

One can’t help but hear, in the reasons for replacement, an echo of the reasons these young buildings were built in the first place. David Adjaye's market hall was supposed to replace a dilapidated structure and bring new life to the Yorkshire town. So, then, will the cinema slated to replace it. Bart Voorsanger’s garden court was to add public space and improve internal circulation within the library’s collection of buildings; Renzo Piano was hired to do the same. Is it the building that failed, or the writers of the program?

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Criticism = Love

To be able to say, simply and directly, what is wrong (or not-yet-right) in design is not a child’s task. I don’t think it is possible to educate about design without talking about the world of wrong, ugly, misguided and oversize. Accentuating the positive will only reorganize so much territory. Today’s Lois Lane cannot avoid the aisles of the grocery store, the app store, or Toys R Us. This Internet of Things: can it be without glitch? Skimming the cream off the top will always generate more clicks, but there’s more constructive work to be done below, where so many design blogs fear to dive.

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Playing With Design: Fredun Shapur

In recent years, designs for children by modern masters like Bruno Munari, the Eameses and Alexander Girard have been brought forward, their diminutive audience seen not as undermining but appealing. We should add Fredun Shapur to that pantheon of designers making winning, sculptural objects for children.

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Year of the Women

As the year-end and best-of lists rain down, I have been thinking of my own highlight reel. For me it was a year of women. I've always believed that you have to choose your own heroines, and this year I made mentors out of a few new ones, as well as finally writing something personal about the woman that inspired me to be an architecture critic in the first place. Ada Louise, I miss you.

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Lunch with the Critics: Fourth-Annual Year-End Awards

Like the Nieman Marcus catalog, the Rockettes, and Mannheim Steamroller, the Lunch With The Critics Year-End Awards has become a holiday tradition, beloved and hotly anticipated. Our intrepid critics, Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, celebrate (and castigate) the best and worst architecture and design of 2013.

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Alexandra Lange on Performance

Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, author and Design Observer contributor. On this episode of Insights Per Minute she contemplates performance.

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Art On Campus

A Tale of Two Signs: James Turrell's "Twilight Epiphany" and the newly renovated Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston provide two examples of how art can animate and reshape university campuses.

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L.A. Loves Deborah Sussman

This December, Woodbury University's WUHO Gallery will host the first retrospective of designer Deborah Sussman's early work, which ranges from games for the Eames Office to the 1984 Olympic Games. In light of the renewed interest in Los Angeles's contributions to the visual arts, this seems like an ideal moment to take a closer look at a career that spans many scales and movements. The organizers need help to make the show an immersive experience worthy of Sussman, and have launched a Kickstarter to fund mounting, screenprinting and associated programming.

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Where We Work

"Being in a place where your peers are working on interesting things is critical." Makeshift Society is a successful co-working space for creatives in San Francisco. Now Rena Tom and Bryan Boyer are bringing the franchise to Brooklyn. And they need your help to get the right tools in place.

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MoMA's Modern Women

The key line in the introductory wall text at the Museum of Modern Art's new installation, "Designing Modern Women, 1890-1990" is this: "The objects, design drawings, posters, and films on view in this gallery, all drawn from the Museum's collection, showcase women's creativity not only as professional designers, but also as clients, consumers performers, and educators." This redefinition of the limits of design practice is long overdue.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (6)

Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.


Recent Book



Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Alexandra Lange
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012
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Design Matters Interview


Alexandra Lange and Jane Thompson

In this podcast interview with Debbie Millman, Alexandra Lange and Jane Thompson discuss their new book, the store Design Research, creating the power of imagination, Marimekko, Sir Lady Jane and Benjamin Thompson.

Other Essays


"We need more museums that let us relax into knowledge"
dezeen, March 27, 2014

Critics roundtable on Shigeru Ban, 2014 Pritzker winner
Architect, March 25, 2014

Designing 'Catching Fire'
The Atlantic, December 3, 2013

Review: Dave Eggers's 'The Circle'
Medium, November 13, 2013

The Demolition of Prentice Hospital and Penn Station
Architect, October 31, 2013

Kickstarter Urbanism: Why Building A Park Takes More Than Crowdfunding
Gizmodo, September 16, 2013

Architecture's Lean In Moment
Metropolis, July 2013

Is Cake Art?
Medium, July 1, 2013

Light and Space and Curves
Architect, June 26, 2013

Le Corbusier at MoMA
New Yorker blog, June 18, 2013

Why Wooden Toys?
New Yorker blog, May 30, 2013

Donald Judd's House
New Yorker blog, May 13, 2013

Dreams Built and Broken: On Ada Louise Huxtable
The Nation, May 6, 2013

Just Sew It
Medium, May 1, 2013

Questions for a Teenage Furniture Dealer
New York Times, April 18, 2013

How To Make A Great Kids' App
The New Yorker blog, April 4, 2013

Passive Voice
Dwell, April 2013

MetaMuseum Tumblr
Launched March 5, 2013

Plain or Fancy?
New Yorker blog, March 4, 2013

It's Toasted: Modernity and 'Downton Abbey'
New Yorker blog, January 21, 2013

Consider the Fork, Very Carefully
New Yorker blog, November 29, 2012

'Wreck-It Ralph' Is a Sweet, Animated Tale About ... Urban Planning?
The Atlantic blog, November 27, 2012

A Wide-Angle Lens on the Midcentury American Home
New York Times, November 15, 2012

The Woman Who Invented the Kitchen
Slate, October 25, 2012

Cornell's Silicon Island
New Yorker blog, October 15, 2012

Fear of Fun: A History of Modernist Design for Children
Los Angeles Review of Books, October 6, 2012

Home Sweet Architectural Masterpiece
New York Times, October 4, 2012

What Comes Second: The Lesson of the Barclays Center
The New Yorker blog, September 19, 2012

DIY Magazines
Domus, September 2012

AD Innovator: Johnston Marklee
Architectural Digest, September 2012

Don't Put A Bird On It: Saving "Craft" from Cuteness
The New Yorker blog, August 1, 2012

A Chair for All Seasons
Domus, July/August 2012

Serious Play | Century of the Child
T Magazine, July 2012

A Playground That Parents Won't Come to Despise
The New Yorker blog, July 6, 2012

Girl Talk: On Architect Barbie
Dwell, July/August 2012

Pinterest: Fear of the "Female Ghetto"
The New Yorker blog, June 13, 2012

The Dot-Com City: Silicon Valley Urbanism
Strelka Press, June 2012

Living In LEGO City
Print, June 2012

Edith Wharton's Houses
The New Yorker blog, May 23, 2012

An Interview with Murray Moss
Disegno No. 2, Spring/Summer 2012

Book Review: 'Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader'
Architectural Record, May 2012

Pedro E. Guerrero on Being Inspired by the Masters
The New York Times, April 4, 2012

Designing 'The Hunger Games'
The Atlantic, April 2, 2012

An Anatomy of Uncriticism
Print, February 2012

I Hate My Coffemaker
GourmetLive, November 30, 2011

A Serving of Style
GourmetLive, November 16, 2011

Table Dressing
T Magazine, November 6, 2011

Paper Tiger
Architect's Newspaper, November 2, 2011

Commentary: The World of Online Interiors
Architectural Record, October 2011

Elegant Solution
Metropolis Magazine, September 2011

The Search for the Perfect Fork
GourmetLive, Augustt 31, 2011

“Why’s This So Good?” No. 9: Herbert Muschamp builds a metaphor
Nieman Storyboard, Augustt 23, 2011

Dieter Rams: Less But Better
Architect's Newspaper, July 6, 2011

Going Back Outside (Again)
Metropolis Magazine, June 2011

Why Are Car Seats So Poorly Designed?
GOOD, May 27, 2011

High Fiber
T: The New York Times Design Magazine, May 1, 2011

Lake Effect
Architectural Digest, April 2011

A House Grows in Brooklyn 2011
Dwell, March 2011

Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?
GourmetLive, February 10, 2011

The Moms Aren't Wrong
GOOD, February 1, 2011

What Next?: Criticism
Architectural Record, January 2011

Sidewalk Sale
New City Reader, November 2010

The Opulent Modernism of Warren Platner
Dwell, November 2010

The Architecture of Food
GourmetLive, October 28, 2010

Harry Weese's Pieces
Architect's Newspaper, October 22, 2010

People in Glass Houses
Financial Times Weekend, October 15, 2010

Hands Off the Icons
Dwell, October 2010

The Zootopian
T Magazine, September 30, 2010

If These Walls Could Talk
New York Times Opinionator, September 13, 2010

What's Cooking in Kitchen Design
New York Times Opinionator, August 27, 2010

Easier Living, By Design
New York Times Opinionator, July 23, 2010

Blue Sky Thinking
Metropolis Magazine, June 16, 2010

The Visceralist
Metropolis Magazine, May 12, 2010

Hole Earth Catalog
NYT Op-Ed, March 21, 2010

As the Tide Turns
Architect's Newspaper, February 4, 2010

Hands-On: The Gropius Touch
The Moment, January 20, 2010

Original Gossip Girls
New York Magazine, November 1, 2009

Fantasy Island
New York Magazine, May 28, 2007

The Next White
New York Magazine, May 13, 2007

Extending the Legacy
Metropolis Magazine, November 8, 2006

Once a Teardown, a Modernist Gem Is Reborn
The New York Times, November 2, 2006

Family Comes First
Metropolis Magazine, July 17, 2006

Building the (New) New York
New York Magazine, May 28, 2006

No Laughing Matter
Metropolis, January 2006

Brand Central Station
Metropolis, November 2005

This New House
New York Magazine, May 21, 2005

The Manhattanization of Brooklyn
New York Magazine, May 23, 2004





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ALEXANDRA LANGE: RECOMMENDED BOOKS


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