June 1, 2011
Notable new releases on contemporary architecture, design, and culture.
Usefulness in Small Things
WRITTEN BY Kim Colin and Sam Hecht
DESIGNED BY Graphic Thought Facility
RIZZOLI, 224 pp., $30
Exploring the relationships between form, function, and locality, the founders of Industrial Facility analyze Hecht’s personal collection of small things as a means of looking at the issues of intention, origin, and design. Thanks to that quirky collection, a showcase of seemingly banal objects—electric plugs, toothbrushes, and cutlery—becomes an interesting and complex rumination. The book is not about good design per se but
about humble objects that serve local needs. With its focus on the diminutive, it packs a large punch, examining the relation-ship of small objects to the world at large.
A History of Design From the Victorian Era to the Present
WRITTEN BY Ann Ferebee with Jeff Byles
DESIGNED BY Jonathan D. Lippincott
W.W. NORTON, 208 pp., $50
The last century and a half have taken us from the majestic 1851 Crystal Palace to the complicated, have-to-get-the-kid-next-door-to-show-me-how-this-works iPhone, released in 2007. In this second edition of their series, the authors take us on a survey of modern design. And whether you’re an architect, designer, historian, or just someone wondering how we’ve progressed from there to here, this compact book concisely covers 150 years of architecture, interior design, industrial design, graphic design, and photography.
Living in the Endless City
EDITED BY Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic
DESIGNED BY Quintin Newark and Paola Faoro, Atlierworks
PHAIDON, 512 pp., $70
According to the London School of Economics (LSE) and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society, 2 percent of the Earth’s surface is taken up by cities, while 53 percent of its population live in them. (Thirty-three percent of those people live in slums.) With this trend likely to intensify in
the decades to come, the LSE has been striving to understand the physical, social, and governmental implications of this phenomenon. “It is not an academic exercise but one that stems from a sense of urgency that something needs to be done to address the dynamics of urban change,” write Burdett and Philip Rode. The report is the result of extensive research done on an increasingly urban world in vital need of transformation.
Charlotte Perriand and Photography: A Wide-Angle Eye
WRITTEN BY Jacques Barsac
ART DIRECTED BY Annarita De Sanctis
5 CONTINENTS EDITIONS, 368 pp., $70
The modern and socially minded Perriand is known primarily for her furniture and collaborations with designers such as Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier, yet little is known about her work in a medium she considered the binding force between herself and her artist contemporaries: photography. The book show-cases Perriand’s world as viewed through her own lens during the 1930s. Pebbles and industrial scraps, wondrous mountains, bones, art pieces, and portraits: these unique perspectives are bound together into a sumptuous volume that you’ll be tempted to take off the coffee table and hang on the wall.
The 3D Type Book
WRITTEN AND DESIGNED BY FL@33
LAURENCE KING, 240pp., $30
The London design firm FL@33 has pulled together one of the most comprehensive collections of 3-D typography ever. This look at handmade and innovative three-dimensional type illustrates the new wave of appreciation for all things non-digital. With more than 1,300 photos, it makes a strong point about the limitations of computer-driven typography, focusing on the exciting potential of new and strange materials. Employing things like skin, clothing, and food to create letterforms, designers are giving a new meaning to the expression “the words jumped off the page.”
Artists’ Handmade Houses
WRITTEN BY Michael Gotkin
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Don Freeman
DESIGNED BY Sarah Gifford
ABRAMS, 240pp., $60
It makes sense that an artist’s home would express his creative vision. Gotkin explores this idea by focusing on a collection of handcrafted homes by well-known artists like George Nakashima, Russel Wright, and Wharton Esherick. The author has a clear and lively writing style, which
is paired with Freeman’s photographs to create dynamic portraits of 13 homes and the artists who lived in them. Freeman’s attention to detail mirrors that of the artists’ and their designs. The book’s projects are well chosen; all of them reinforce the idea that the artist’s home both influences and is an extension of his work.
Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi: Best of Friends
WRITTEN BY Shoji Sadao
DESIGNED BY Tomoko Miho
5 CONTINENTS EDITIONS, 256pp., $65
In 2006, the Noguchi Museum, in New York, mounted a show called Best of Friends: R. Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi, which did more than just highlight the works of the two men. It provided a glimpse into an unusual friendship, demonstrating how the collaborations between them represented a kind of dialogue between the arts and sciences. The new book, which is based on the exhibition, goes even deeper. Sadao was a longtime Fuller associate who witnessed many of the events in the book first-hand. This is the story not just of a friendship but of the melding of two great minds.
Empire of Space
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Todd Eberle
DESIGNED BY Richard Pandiscio
RIZZOLI, 300pp., $85
“Most everything I photograph has a kind of empirical quality,” Eberle writes. His latest book underscores this bold aesthetic, featuring portraits, landscapes, interiors, and architectural masterpieces. Together they become a tribute to not only great spaces but to the American spirit. A dynamic portrait of Iggy Pop accompanies a stunning photograph of Fallingwater’s living room, showing Eberle’s unique perspective. More than 200 photographs are followed by an honest and engaging interview with Glenn O’Brien. Known as a photographer of architecture, Eberle is considerably more than that, which this book affirms by showing the full scope of his work.