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Anita Lang, Interior Designer

2021 MASTERS of the SOUTHWEST Award Winner - Anita Lang

When it comes to interiors, Anita Lang goes for meaning along with style.

By Nora Burba Trulsson | Photography by Karyn Millet and Werner Segarra

On a bright morning, sunlight glints from an impressive collection of design awards that lines the perimeter of Anita Lang’s Scottsdale office. The interior designer has racked up more than 100 awards, for which she is grateful, yet she tries to keep things in perspective. “The hardware shows how long I’ve been doing this,” she says with a laugh.

Indeed, since launching her own firm in Arizona nearly three decades ago, Lang has become known for her bold, clean interiors executed in a variety of styles, which complement the architecture and emphasize luxe materials—an approach that keeps her in demand both in the state and around the country.

That Lang would succeed in a design career should come as no surprise given her early years. The daughter of German immigrants, Lang grew up in Maine. “I was always creating something,” she recalls, “and my mother was often afraid to leave me alone to my own devices. I recall slicing holes in her Oriental rug for some project and taking apart her bracelet to make a chandelier for my Barbie’s house. I also cut up my family’s souvenir Florida travel calendar to make views for that doll house.” Lang’s father is an engineer, a fact she credits for helping balance her creative side and inspiring her to learn how things are built. “My mind creates, but I can see things spatially,” Lang explains. “I always wanted to know how to make a dream a reality—so I think I have the left/right sides of the brain in balance.”

Lang first ventured into interiors while working for a decorating store in Wisconsin and studying design at a local university. “I eventually started doing projects on my own, so I just hung up my own shingle,” she explains. “I thought it was that simple, but at first, I made so many mistakes on my own dime. That’s how you learn.”

In 1992, she followed her family to Arizona and launched her firm in Fountain Hills before relocating to downtown Scottsdale in 2010. Her work now doesn’t have a specific aesthetic, she points out. “I respond to the vernacular, the architecture, the client,” Lang says. “The stimuli on each project are different, but I do like a timeless, classic look.”

That approach is evident on two recent contemporary projects that she worked on with Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning architect Mark Candelaria, one of many high-profile architects and builders with whom she frequently collaborates.

For a 7,500-square-foot stone-and-glass Paradise Valley home tucked into a hillside, Lang echoed the sweeping architecture and kept the emphasis on the expansive views with simple materials, clean lines and a largely neutral color palette. “We used large-scale black granite slab floors that balanced the walnut ceiling,” Lang notes. “The black granite fireplace in the great room also stands up to the scale of the house.”

Pale gray seating and a Lang-designed metal-and-stone coffee table provide a conversation area around the great room’s fireplace without distracting from the desert vistas framed by the adjacent floor-to-ceiling windows. For the wine room, with its custom glass-and-metal wine cabinet, Lang added a subtle pop of color with a navy leather sectional and an umber-hued bench.

At another abode located at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley, Lang wrapped one wall of the two-story great room volume with paldao wood, adding a note of natural warmth to the room’s white walls, block accents and black granite flooring. The wood also provides a simple backdrop to the homeowner’s contemporary art collection, which is displayed on an upper-level gallery overlooking the great room.

1. A sculptural, open-riser staircase links the home’s two levels. 2. Lang added warmth to a Mountain Shadows residence by wrapping walls in paldao wood, then repeating natural materials in the great room furnishings. The painting is by Jamali. 3. A lower-level powder room features deep, tone-on-tone hues and dimensional accent tile. 4. A custom banquette is an inviting spot for chess and other games. 5. A painting by Alexander Rojas Salazar is part of an artistic headboard for the master bedroom. Lang chose natural materials and neutral colors to help the art pop. 6. The custom walnut and black marble bar serves as an elegant spot for cocktails at the Mountain Shadows home.

For the 6,000-square-foot home’s ne plus ultra architectural feature—a lower-level “car bar,” with a window offering a peek at the homeowner’s favorite wheels, lowered via special elevator—Lang kicked it up a notch with a red leather sectional and other flame-hued accents, meant to balance views of the car and a custom wine cabinet, the room’s other focal point.

Wine bottles in a custom cabinet create a patterned backdrop in the lounge of a Paradise Valley home by interior designer Anita Lang.

“Things in a room have to be meaningful. You need to edit to get to the essence of a space.”

—Anita Lang,  interior designer

For both homes, Lang practiced restraint when it came to furniture and accessories, a tact for which she has become known. “You don’t need to have something for every elevation in a room,” she says. “Our lives are so busy, so I don’t think you need clutter. Things in a room have to be meaningful. You need to edit to get to the essence of a space.”

With those homes complete, Lang is focusing on other projects with her team of eight. After years of creating custom furniture for her projects, she’s started a furniture line, Design 528, online for now, but soon to expand into space adjacent to her office and studio. Lang is looking forward to traveling again, especially back to the Salone del Mobile Milano in Italy—the largest furniture trade show in the world—which, she says, helps her keep a finger on the pulse of the international design scene.

1. Lang kept the emphasis on the hillside home’s broad views, keeping accessories simple and choosing a light fixture that echoes the bold architecture. 2. The abode has views into the rocky slopes beyond, which inspired Lang to choose furnishings in neutral hues and natural materials. Black granite, used for flooring and the fireplace surround, helps ground the setting. 3. The lower level of the Mountain Shadows house includes a “car bar,” where the owner’s favorite vehicles are framed in a viewing window. Lang sparked the space with a red leather sofa and curved accent chair.

Closer to home, Lang is expanding her design talents and experience more cerebrally. “I am fascinated with quantum physics and with the intention behind design,” she explains. “When you walk into a space and have an evocative experience—what creates that? To get there, I’ve been doing a meditation process before designing, focusing on who the clients are and what is important to them.”

“I admit, it’s not brain surgery,” Lang notes. “But as designers, we impact people.”

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