edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 12/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
by Kester Rattenbury, Rob Bevan, and Kieran Long
New York: Harper Design International, $30
240 pages, 400 illustrations (300 color)
Three British journalists collaborated on this handy compilation of 111 contemporary architects. They are arranged alphabetically, from Spain's Abalos & Herreros to Switzerland's Architekturbüro Peter Zumthor, with each firm given a two-page spread. Standouts include Toyo Ito's library and media center in Sendai, Japan; Zaha Hadid's tram station in Strasbourg, France; and the cover shot, the angular Morphosis-designed Diamond Ranch School in Pomona, California. Though the texts naturally try to justify their subjects' inclusion, there is some refreshing candor, too. (Of Michael Graves, the authors write, "It must be hard being best known for a kettle.") Maybe a sequel can be equally frank about interior designers.
By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV and Other Object Lessons
by Ralph Caplan
New York: Fairchild Publications, $40
267 pages, 40 illustrations (34 color)
Ralph Caplan, former editor in chief of I.D. Magazine, is one of our industry's most astute and graceful writers. He first published By Design in 1982, and it's a pleasure to welcome the second edition, with its color illustrations, crisp design by Adam B. Bohannon, foreword by Museum of Modern Art architecture and design curator Paola Antonelli, and concluding chapter by Caplan himself.
This new conclusion discusses "transformational technology": inventions such as the automobile, television, and computer, which at first gave little hint of their eventual impact. He also reminds us of design's recent prominence in the media. Writing of the exterior-interior dichotomy at Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Caplan remarks that interiors have become increasingly "crucial in an environment where human life has so steadily moved indoors." About universal design, he contends that it has "changed the lives of people who need extraordinary designs in order to function. In the process it has changed the lives of many more people, who need extraordinary designs to function better and more pleasurably. Ideally, universal design would be the only kind we have, just as in an ideal world food and health food would be synonymous." He closes by asking, "How do you make a serious contribution to the planet while working in. . .the 'real world'? How do you attract expert collaborators with the requisite time and motivation? How do you find clients to support such ventures?" His answer: "By design."
What exactly is design? As before, the book provides a felicitously rambling definition—enlivened by anecdotal wisdom about chairs, hamburgers, clothing labels, sink drains, Model T Fords, Tom Sawyer, housing for the elderly, uniforms for museum guards, and the marketing of salad dressing. And why don't the bathroom doors of the Hotel Louis XIV have locks? On page 180, a simple line drawing by Milton Glaser makes it perfectly clear. You'll have to see for yourself.
What They're Reading. . .
Founder of her namesake architecture firm
Our True Intent Is All for Your Delight
introduction by Martin Parr
London: Chris Boot, $40
128 pages, 56 color illustrations
John Hinde's photographs of the Butlin's holiday camps—popular with families of the British middle class in the 1960's and 1970's—are collected in this 2002 book. Schulz-Dornburg says she finds the marvelous settings "ingenious and amazing, a feast for the eye, full of humor, and very kitsch." Martin Parr is the author of the Boring Postcards series.