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Alexandra Lange

NYT Opinionator: Easier Living Through Design


The first of my three planned posts for the New York Times Opinionator blog’s Living Rooms series went live today. It is my take on the domestic predictions of Mary and Russel Wright, whose 1950 Guide to Easier Living is well worth a read. Fabulous layout and illustrations. You can also tour Russel’s amazing house, Dragon Rock, until October.

The easier living the Wrights described — both in the book and their lines of domestic products — sounds very familiar today, with buffet suppers, one-pot meals, portable seating and lots of double-duty storage. But the Wrights’ work was revolutionary at the time: not only did they simplify our plates and mugs, chairs and cabinets, but they simplified the way we were to live and work in our homes. Many other designers and manufacturers created modern design for the home in the 1950s, but few showed how to use it with the detail and multi-media platform of the Wrights. Without the tools for contemporary life they and others provided, our lives today would run very differently.

Read the rest here, and be sure to check out the previous Living Rooms on design and architecture: Jayne Merkel on the size of houses, Ellen Lupton on heirlooms. Lupton mentions what should be the design movie of the summer, Please Give, which I wrote about on Design Observer. But I haven’t seen Inception yet.



Posted in: 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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