Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 10/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Inside Outside: Petra Blaisse
New York: Monacelli Press, $65
504 pages, 600 color illustrations
At Petra Blaisse's Amsterdam firm, Inside Outside, the multinational staff designs interiors, lighting, textiles, exhibitions, and landscapes with occasional forays into furniture, acoustics, and urban planning. Inside Outside is probably best known for its two dozen collaborations with Rem Koolhaas's Office for Metropolitan Architecture, notably the furnishings and gardens for the Seattle Central Library and dramatic curtains for Prada "epicenter" shops in New York and Los Angeles and a concert hall in Portugal. Blaisse has also worked with Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, on a hotel in the Netherlands; Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA on a glass pavilion at Ohio's Toledo Museum of Art; and UNStudio for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
This volume covers more than 50 projects—during the course of which great leaps of imagination take the designs beyond the ordinary. The results have been given such names as Silk Rock, Milky Way, Liquid Gold, Angel Root, Noise Dress, Sound Sock, and Oil Pressure, then organized into chapters with headings including Reflection, Production, Undoing Boundaries, and the Path as Spatial Tool. This is heady, wonderful, thoughtful stuff. Yet perhaps, just perhaps, Blaisse's admirable disregard for convention could be more effectively demonstrated in a more conventional format. The last 90 pages do give factual information about each project along with many small images documenting the design process, but much of the book leaves the reader favorably impressed without always being sure exactly what is being shown. We love it, Petra, whatever it is!
New York: Thames & Hudson, $65
256 pages, 329 illustrations (313 color)
When the 20th annual Turner Prize was awarded to ceramist Grayson Perry in 2003, he reportedly received it, Jacky Klein wrote, "wearing a lilac satin babydoll dress, frilly socks and red pumps." In both his life and his art, he combines the ordinary and the flamboyant, using his humble origins, difficult childhood, and long history of cross-dressing as the background for his work. His pottery draws on traditions going back to the ancient Greeks but depicts contemporary conflicts—war, religion, politics, class, sex, and his own rather subversive view of the art world—instead of warriors and gods, myths and legends. This is Perry's first major monograph, showing 150 of his works, not only ceramics but also early films and sketchbook pages. In addition, we see some of the objects that have inspired him, from Afghan rugs to medieval altarpieces. Beautiful and troubling.
What They're Reading...
Susan Peterson, Partner of Dermond Peterson
Matisse the Master—A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour, 1909–1954
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, $25
544 pages, 183 illustrations (24 color)
For nearly 10 years, chic hostesses have laid tables and dressed beds with textiles lovingly designed and hand-printed by Dermond Peterson. Trained as a mixed-media conceptual artist, Susan Peterson uses printmaking techniques to produce crisp, clean iconography that some might say harks back to the late work of Henri Matisse. "There's no stylistic relationship between Matisse's work and what I do," she objects in deference to the fauvist master, "but I always go back to him to think about color and pattern." She recently finished the second volume of Hilary Spurling's lauded biography while thinking about new designs to appear on textiles. "As I read, it was impossible not to relate to the depiction of fabric, the use of pattern, and the relationship between interior and exterior space," she says. "I am especially grateful for the paper cutouts, which magnificently merge art, decoration, design." As in Matisse's most renowned paintings, blurred lines are the best. —Deborah Wilk