reviewed by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 6/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Contemporary Rugs: Art and Design
By Christopher Farr, Matthew Bourne, and Fiona Leslie
London: Merrell, $50
208 pages, 170 color illustrations
This handsomely illustrated survey presents a brief history of 20th-century rug design and examples by 64 designers. Partners in the Christopher Farr rug showrooms in the U.K. and the U.S., coauthors Farr and Matthew Bourne feature some of their own artists—most prominently Kate Blee and Farr himself—but the quality of their work fully justifies the inclusion. Designer biographies, a source list, a glossary, a bibliography, and an introduction by Interior Design Hall of Fame member Andrée Putman round out the material.
Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency
By Andrea Oppenheimer Dean with photography by Timothy Hursley
New York: Princeton Architectural Press, $30 paperback
186 pages, 144 illustrations (132 color)
Experimental architect Samuel Mockbee died of leukemia last December at the age of 57, shortly after winning a MacArthur "genius grant" and the National Building Museum's first Apgar Award for Excellence. His practice was in the rural South, his typical clients poor and black, his materials discarded license plates, railroad ties, used bricks, and hay bales. Yet he created beautiful buildings and interiors admired by many who are more at home with stainless steel and anigre. In this timely and moving testimony, Mockbee's commitment and lack of pretense are well matched by the graceful clarity of Andrea Oppenheimer Dean's words and Timothy Hursley's photographs.
Waddesdon Manor: The Heritage of a Rothschild House
By Michael Hall
New York: Harry N. Abrams, $65
320 pages, 300 illustrations (168 color)
More than 125 years ago, Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, great-grandson of the founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty, took a Buckinghamshire hilltop and started to transform it into something quite un-English. His vision was of a French Renaissance château, and the fashionable architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur executed the work meticulously. Waddesdon's furnishings, though generally 18th-century in style and thus later than Destailleur's architectural models, are suitably French and/or suitably grand. Highlights include Savonnerie carpets, Beauvais tapestries designed by François Boucher, and furniture by maîtres ébénistes René Dubois, Martin Carlin, and Jean-Henri Riesener as well as English portraits and Dutch old masters. The château was ready in May 1880 for Baron Ferdinand's first house party. (Since then, Waddesdon has also become the depository of fine drawings for interiors and the decorative arts, a collection assembled by Baron Edmond, a cousin of the original occupant.) All is shown in excellent photography by John Bigelow Taylor, and the current Lord Rothschild contributes a foreword. Michael Hall is deputy editor of Country Life and author of The English Country House.