Feb 23, 2018

the art you cannot avoid

The profession of architecture critic is a small one, and not one scheduled for growth, but the ability to write about architecture—either as a language or a stage—is relevant to more than criticism. Architecture is the art you cannot avoid and the one critics cannot make go away.

So ends Alexandra Lange’s Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. “A language or a stage” is the perfect and perfectly economical way of expressing why so many of us trained in the fine arts also love design. As writers and makers, we want the absolute liberty of artmaking, the idiosyncratic, particular joy of the one-off: the enigmatic experience that can jolt you out of the everyday. But some of us cannot help but also love wrangling with the stubborn materiality of that same dailyness. That’s the art we cannot avoid—the built world, sparkling with its evidence of social imagination that is inherited or newly invented, accidental or deliberate. Design is a language for making sense of the world and one another, and a stage for helping or hindering our actions in this world that’s assembled around us. So it will never be a boutique enterprise. It’s for everyone.

Note: I also just preordered Lange’s forthcoming The Design of Childhood. Sure to be good. Also: I’m thinking a lot about philosopher Maxine Greene’s use of “social imagination” in collective experiences of art. More on that in my recent interview with Make.