edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 6/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
edited by Michael Sorkin
New York: Monacelli Press, $30 paperbound
208 pages, 45 black-and-white illustrations
Architect Emilio Ambasz, who turns 61 this summer, was born in Argentina, lives in New York and Italy, and calls the world his home. This collection of nine essays by various contributors—sandwiched between a graceful and witty introduction and conclusion by architect Michael Sorkin—traces Ambasz's dazzling career.
His achievements in architecture and interior design include the Banque Bruxelles Lambert in Milan, 1979, and the San Antonio Botanical Center's conservatory, 1982, but he never restricted himself to buildings. He and Giancarlo Piretti designed Cassina's ubiquitous Vertebra chair in 1976; in 1996, Ambasz launched Vitra's VoX stacking chair.
On the academic side, he has taught at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany, and at Princeton University. At New York's Museum of Modern Art, he curated such exhibitions as "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape," 1972, and a retrospective of Luis Barragán's architecture, 1974. Cofounding the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies with Peter Eisenman and serving as president of the Architectural League of New York rank among other important professional activities.
Altogether, we witness an immense talent, a daunting intellect, and a robust ego made palatable by enormous charm. As Sorkin writes in his introduction, "A major figure in the design firmament, he is genuinely intimate with the mandarins whose names he drops in suave staccato. Indeed, the ambition and self-esteem are so unblindered, so joyful, we wish only to spin in the slipstream of this amazing gyre of fabulosity."
François Linke 1855-1946: The Belle Epoque of French Furniture
by Christopher Payne
Wappingers Falls, New York: Antique Collectors' Club, $150
528 pages, 700 illustrations (200 color)
Little remembered now, François Linke is said to have been the greatest Parisian cabinetmaker of his era. His designs—some produced in collaboration with sculptor Léon Messagé—blended elements of the Louis XV and Empire styles with art nouveau, a new fashion at the time. Admiration for le style Linke reached a high point at the Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1900.
Christopher Payne, a former director of the Sotheby's furniture department, has enriched this remarkably thorough monograph with photographs of wax models for Linke's furniture as well as reproductions of glass negatives cataloging the work.
Legorreta + Legorreta: New Buildings & Projects 1997-2003
contributions by Richard Rogers, Fumihiko Maki, José Villagrán, and Angeles Mastreta
New York: Rizzoli International Publications, $65
304 pages, 280 color illustrations
Ricardo Legorreta, Mexico's preeminent living architect, went into practice with his son Victor in 1989. Of the buildings and projects the firm has designed since then, 35 appear here—including residences in Brazil, Hawaii, California, and Japan; a hotel in Bilbao, Spain; and a London penthouse, studio, and museum for fashion legend Zandra Rhodes.
Regardless of location, however, the Legorretas maintain the flavor of their origins. As British architect Richard Rogers writes of the father specifically, his work is "deeply rooted in Mexico's timeless culture, from the magnificent, proud Mayan temples with their solid platforms, stepping pyramids, and walled-in courtyards, right up to. . .the great Luis Barragán and the wealth of contemporary Mexican culture."
An excellent record of an outstanding achievement, the book includes many interior views, in color, plus an illustrated chronology of selected work, beginning with the firm's founding in 1963.
What They're Reading...
Principal of his namesake design firm
The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance: How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World
by Paul Robert Walker
New York: Perennial, $25
269 pages, 18 black-and-white illustrations
"Part art history, part gossip" is how Hayes describes this "intriguing" record of "rivalry, deceit, collaboration, and competition" between Florence's two artistic giants of the Italian Renaissance: Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect, and Lorenzo Ghiberti, the sculptor, both vied for commissions to design the doors of the Battistero di San Giovanni and the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. "Don't be put off by the title, which might seem boring," Hayes adds. "This is a great story."