edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 4/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
By Philippe Collas and Eric Villedary
Paris: Flammarion, distributed by Rizzoli New York, $35
152 pages, 200 illustrations (35 color)
At age 57, with her friend and mentor Henry James recently dead and her marriage ended, Edith Wharton needed a change of scenery. Having already become a French citizen and established herself in a house near Paris, she began spending every autumn and winter in a château on the Côte d'Azur between Nice and Menton. And she always brought along the highly developed eye for interiors that she'd displayed decades earlier in The Decoration of Houses.
The richly illustrated Edith Wharton's French Riviera gives a good picture of what she encountered: the villas and châteaus, the hotels, restaurants, and casinos, the dances and fashions, the seaside pavilions and promenades, the artists and celebrities, her special new friends Aldous Huxley and Bernard Berenson. (There's a brief bibliography but unfortunately no index.) To the end a sharp critic of excess, she apparently enjoyed exercising her taste in a context of luxury. "The story of Edith Wharton on the Riviera," the authors write, "could very well be the plot to one of her own novels."
By Amos Avitan
Vancouver, Canada: Avitan Technologies Corp., distributed by Hushion House Publishing, $19
88 pages, 16 tables and diagrams
Buy New: $18.95
Yes, this little book is just as corny as the title leads you to fear, and, yes, the book is aimed at clients in danger of being snookered by unscrupulous builders and repairmen. Yet there's much buried information that interior designers might find useful in dealing with contractors and subs—lists of references to require, for example. "Insure that your [plumbing] contractor is equipped with a pipe inspection camera," Amos Avitan counsels. "Insist that your [furnace] technician is equipped with a carbon monoxide leak tester." Maybe you already know all this. However, if you can add even one arrow to your quiver of construction knowledge, it could be worth more than $19.
By Susan Day
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, $75
224 pages, 250 illustrations (149 color)
Buy New: $52.50
This handsomely documented survey covers carpets produced internationally between the two World Wars, when the machine was encroaching on handicraft traditions and design was undergoing revolutionary change. Susan Day, chief librarian at the Institut Français d'Architecture in Paris and author of Great Carpets of the World, considers the contributions of artists, manufacturers, and retailers. We see the vibrant colors and relaxed contours of designs by Duncan Grant and his Omega Workshops colleagues, the napless flat-weaves from the venerable Aubusson factories, the revival of traditional techniques by the Lad Artists' Cooperative in Warsaw, and much more. Tables of signatures and monograms, a glossary, and a bibliography follow.
By Rafael Viñoly
New York: Princeton Architectural Press, $85
320 pages, 400 color illustrations, 120 drawings
Rafael Viñoly has been much in the news lately as one of the architects in the Think team, responsible for a widely admired runner-up scheme for the World Trade Center site in New York. Before that, he completed a large body of work notable for its interior spaces as well as for its exteriors. Among them are the multifunctional Tokyo International Forum, opened in 1996, and Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 2001. This monograph features well illustrated presentations of those two, along with 236 other projects.
What They're Reading...
Barbara Barry, president of her namesake Los Angeles design firm:
Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships
by Gail Greet Hannah (Princeton Architectural Press).
Buy New: $10.47
For more than half a century, Rowena Reed Kostellow taught industrial design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Now Gail Hannah, who knew Kostellow, has gathered her classroom lectures and exercises in book form. "I feel so kindred to her process and philosophy," Barry says. "She poignantly illustrates that design is a life discipline. I wish I'd had the opportunity to study with her."