Easier Living, By Design," on the influence of Mary and Russel Wright." /> Easier Living, By Design," on the influence of Mary and Russel Wright." />
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Alexandra Lange

Culture War Begins at Home


Odd thing about being in the New York Times: a) everyone sees your story and b) everyone sees your story. I got this polite but slightly alarming email in response to my Opinionator piece "Easier Living, By Design", on the influence of Mary and Russel Wright.

One of my favorite periods is the Craftsman period that seems to be confined to our country. What came after that is by my impression pretty dismal indeed, and in a hair raising way, de-humanizing, or homogenizing. Now I see the way that what Mary and William Russel ‘taught’ meshes so nicely with the way that the New World Order demands that people of the world should be dumbed down, and eventually disposed of. It destroyed culture, not supported it or even offered an alternative culture. I see that before the ‘50’s chrome and plastic days, the old fashioned ways were under attack, and in the false prosperity that existed post WW!! fed right in to this destruction of old fashioned, destruction of self sufficiency and individuality, family, and community, and the outrageous propaganda of these two hacks was a bludgeoning of a real culture, instead of replacing it or evolving it into another culture of value. And we have responded like Pinocchio and his truant friends tempted by the insidious  lure of a new and “easy” way of “living”

Reading through the comments there is quite a culture war going on between the proponents of linen, silver candlesticks and dining rooms and the lovers of open plan and plastic. I am actually agnostic on this (my house has a library, no dining room). What the Wrights were saying to me was, Think about what you don’t need, and don’t worry about it. Streamline your life for you. That streamline was a style no longer matters (though clearly many would buy it again in a heartbeat).



Posted in: Culture, Design History

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Alexandra Lange 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.

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