edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 9/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Donghia: The Artistry of Luxury & Style
by Sherri Donghia
New York: Bulfinch Press, $40
192 pages, 175 color illustrations
Furniture and textiles manufacturer Donghia was founded in 1968 by designer Angelo Donghia, who built on the success of his earlier fabric company, &Vice Versa. Donghia died in 1985, at age 50, and was posthumously inducted into the newly established Interior Design Hall of Fame. The late John Hutton then took over as the company's design director of furniture—a contribution that goes curiously unacknowledged here—while Sherri Donghia, a cousin, joined as his counterpart in textiles. With her solid background in fashion and retail, she has gone on to attract clients such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Neiman Marcus, and a who's who of interior designers.
In this book, she presents interiors and vignettes as well as sharing her notebooks, based on years of global travel. These examples show her ideas for combining casual and luxurious effects, a look that's the essence of Donghia. (Photographs of the batiks, stripes, and polka dots worn by women in Bali, Indonesia, eventually generated a Donghia fabric; the Islamic forms in a church in Istanbul led her to create a geometric jacquard in silk, cotton, and viscose.) The result is a visually rich, varied portfolio that any designer will find stimulating.
Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom
photography by Stephen Wilkes, introduction by Senator Bill Bradley
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, $75
141 pages, 77 color illustrations
Occasionally a book comes along that seems, at first glance, to have nothing to do with interior design and then, on further inspection, proves to have everything to do with it. This powerful collection of color photographs of Ellis Island's long-derelict hospital complex shows us not how rooms can be made beautiful but instead how they derive great character and dignity from their functions. Shattered glass, peeling paint, invasive vines, and broken furniture add poignancy to the vast, empty spaces where 12 million immigrants experienced joy, hope, anxiety, and fear. Some moved on from here into a new world of unprecedented freedoms; others, for health reasons, got this close and no closer. As former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley writes in his introduction, "Wilkes's photographs, steeped in ephemeral island light, unveil for the first time the unforgettable, often chilling details of past lives in now abandoned rooms."
The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Midcentury Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes & Others
by William D. Earls
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, $35
174 pages, 182 black-and-white illustrations
It was 1947 when U.S. architects and designers got back to work after the monumental hiatus of the Second World War. For the next two decades, no place on earth had more innovative residential design than New Canaan, Connecticut. The most famous of these houses were built by architects for themselves: Philip Johnson's Glass House, 1949, and Marcel Breuer's two houses, 1949 and 1951. This welcome survey presents three dozen projects by protégés of Bauhaus founder and Harvard University professor Walter Gropius. The coverage is exemplary, with vintage photography and floor plans.
The story is not one of unmitigated acclaim, however. New Canaan was a 300-year-old village previously noted for its white clapboard and green shutters, and this book reprints a New Canaan Historical Society publication from 1967 that features a section titled "The Town Reacts." From the pages of the New Canaan Advertiser—which dubbed the local Metro-North Railroad terminus "The Next Station to Heaven"—we're also treated to a dozen verses, some by the architects themselves and some by their detractors. These disparate voices remind us not only of the greatness of early modern architecture and interiors but also of the struggle against popular misunderstanding and resentment.
What They're Reading...
Principal of West Chin Architect
El Croquis, issue 57
Madrid: El Croquis
197 pages, 138 black-and-white illustrations
Creative director of West Chin Architect
Maison: Christian Liaigre
by Herbert Ypma
New York: Thames & Hudson, $65
256 pages, 550 illustrations (400 color)
Husbands and wives who work together don't necessarily share a viewpoint. Chin, the architect, is admittedly big-picture; Repetti, the designer, says she can become consumed by "every 1/8 inch on a curtain hem." Hence their his-and-hers libraries—and the tension that strengthens the couple's work. His read of choice: An issue of El Croquis focusing on Santiago Calatrava's work via wide shots and concept sketches. Hers: A colorful Christian Liaigre monograph loaded with close-ups of finishes, stitching, and fabrics. —Kelly Beamon