Alexandra Lange | Essays

Just Looking

At a certain point during our three-year renovation, I OD’d on design websites. I couldn’t look at another wallpaper-inspired, radically-simplified, IKEA-hacked, upcycled fill-in-the-blank, much as I sometimes needed to choose tile or a shower curtain or a coffee maker. Now that we are done, my purchases tend to design-free diapers and Carters pajamas (though in truth, I did avoid those with mottoes). And in truth, I am repressing the Marimekko throw pillow spree. But those are a lifetime obsession.

Which is why my new favorite source of procrastination is Reference Library. I don’t know who the author is (though judging by his friends, I ought to), but his site offers beauties new and old, architecture and objects, fashion and textiles, idiosyncratically grouped by personal taste and rarely with a price. I love how plain and unexplained it all is. And I love almost everything on the site. But I get the feeling I can just admire.

I ran across Reference Library Googling Alexander Girard. As I may have mentioned, I am trying my hardest to write a book on Girard, mid-century architect, textile designer, exhibition designer, folk art collector and have found the internet material on him selective and repetitive. That’s why I was thrilled to turn up his Detrola chair, part of the vast RF Ebay trove, most tagged “Items I Didn’t Win.” He says these are his disappointments, but for me the idea of ownership during the period of the auction is usually enough, just like checking out a book from the library.

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