Frances Anderton, the longtime host of the weekly public radio show DnA: Design and Architecture on KCRW, currently covers Los Angeles design and architecture for print and radio. She is also writing a book, Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles. Before moderating a Zócalo/Helms Bakery District event, “Will a New Generation of Leaders Shake Up L.A.’s Culture?,” she shared her best radio tip, her favorite pair of socks and her least favorite architectural structure in L.A.
What is your favorite pair of socks?
I don't mean to sound too arty, but my favorite pair of socks is a pair I bought at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The socks’ design is taken from the metal design that [architect] David Adjaye did for the museum. If there was any teeny, teeny, teeny edit I would make, it’s that I would do them in cashmere or cotton because I cycle a lot, and so they get a bit sweaty.
How long have you been a cyclist?
I have been cycling since I was 19 years old, and I’m quite a long way from 19. So I've been cycling for 40 years. My mother was a racing cyclist. And then when I went to college in London, I pretty quickly realized that it was just going to be more efficient to get to places using a bike. And then in fact during the summer holidays I was a bicycle messenger because I enjoyed cycling, so I would race around London delivering packages.
You’ve been called the “voice of architecture and design.” What’s your best tip for being a radio personality?
Try and have fun with it. And also try not to sound like you know more than the people who are listening, and you want to make sure they know that you know, you know? Channel what you think people will want to know because you know you want to know it.
What is your least favorite architectural structure in Los Angeles?
The Beverly Center. Now that you’ve asked me, I think I detest it. I think its scale is gargantuan and gross. I definitely think there can be really interesting massive monolithic buildings, and that’s not one.
Where's one of your favorite places to go in L.A.?
I love Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica has that reputation for being affluent and white and everybody does yoga, and blah, blah, blah, and then you go to the pier, and it’s like everybody’s there. There’s more people from all parts of L.A., and the rest of the world at the pier than you would see in any other part of L.A. It’s truly, truly, genuinely diverse. And then there’s the physical drama of it—being out stuck in the Pacific, because if you go to the end, it’s blustery and the structure feels a bit shaky at times. [Meanwhile people at the arcade] are pulling levers to get some fluffy animal. It’s sort of bizarre and fantastic.