New and notable books on architecture, culture, and design

Material Design: Informing Architecture by Materiality
WRITTEN BY Thomas Schröpfer
DESIGNED BY Yoshiki Waterhouse
BIRKHAÜSER, 192 pp., $74.95

Schröpfer, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, looks at the myriad ways that materials make innovative architecture possible. With the help of experts, the author provides a comprehensive view of what is already being done with materials, challenging his readers to come up with new ways to push the field forward. As Viray writes in the introduction, “Material makes thoughts tangible.” It’s also what makes architecture real.

Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig
WRITTEN BY Steven Heller and Elaine Lustig Cohen
CHRONICLE BOOKS, 208 pp., $50

During his short life, Lustig completed a wide range of projects. This comprehensive book high-lights his groundbreaking 1950s posters and book covers but also explores his lesser-known and equally important work in architecture and interior design. Cowritten by Lustig’s widow,
Born Modern examines the designer’s process, visions, and philosophies. Heller’s command of history, combined with Lustig Cohen’s knowledge of the designer himself, helps create an intimate portrait of this complex and largely overlooked hero of midcentury modernism.

Tools for Living: A Sourcebook of Iconic Designs for the Home
WRITTEN BY Charlotte and Peter Fiell
DESIGNED BY Mark Thomson Design
FIELL PUBLISHING, 768 pp., $59.95

Though it reads like a catalog, Tools for Living is a well-curated collection of the most functional and sustainable products on the market. Giving a page each to more than 700 “ultimate” products for the home, the authors demonstrate that functionality and beauty can seamlessly coexist. The book’s format is straightforward: each product is photographed; described in English, German, and French; and organized into categories depending on use. Without too much editorializing, the Fiells make their larger point that well-designed products look better, last longer, and are consequently more sustainable.

Rietveld’s Universe
EDITED BY Rob Dettingmeijer, Marie-Thérèse van Thoor, and Ida van Zijl
DESIGNED BY Lesley Moore
INTRODUCTION BY Ole Bouman and Edwin Jacobs
NAI PUBLISHERS, 272pp., $61.40

Originally published to coincide with an exhibition at the Centraal Museum Utrecht, the book contrasts the Dutch designer’s work with that of his contemporaries, giving new insight into his creative genius. Rietveld’s Universe explores the social context in which he lived and worked, highlighting the appetite for experimentation that made him a pioneer of the modern movement. Pencil drawings and photographs accompany a narrative of Rietveld’s life, illustrating that the scope of his work goes far beyond the iconic Red Blue Chair or the Schröder house.

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