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Adele Naude Santos

Adele Naude Santos at her Somerville home. Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff


Occupation Dean of MIT School of Architecture and Planning

Residence Somerville

You describe MIT as a place where people take a practical, pragmatic approach to solving problems in design. Do you feel similarly about your wardrobe?

I really believe in timeless style so that there’s no date on it. I never attempt to be fashionable in the true sense of the word. The clothes I buy I can wear for 20 years. I can just recycle them. There are designers like Issey Miyake that have some intrinsic quality — fabric used in a special way, the shape of the garment is spectacular — and I can wear it day or evening.


As an architect, you've worked on both affordable and luxury housing. What about your fashion purchases?

[Laughs] I think it’s a bit of both. I’m a pragmatist and would rather have lots of choices than just garments that are shockingly expensive. But I’m very interested in fabrics like three-dimensionally sculpted Nuno textiles from Japan. They combine sophisticated technology with crafts traditions.

Your jewelry is gigantic. Is it heavy?

My favorite necklace has these big beaded balls made of lightweight wool. People stop me on the street and ask where I got them. But I’ve got jewelry from India that can break my neck if I’m not careful.  —  Tina Sutton

Interview has been condensed and edited. Send comments to