edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 1/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Carolands: Ernest Sanson, Achille Duchêne, Willis Polk
by Michael Middleton Dwyer
New York: Acanthus Press, the San Mateo County Historical Association, and the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America, $75
224 pages, 350 illustrations (250 color)
This volume is everything that a book about an important house should be. An introduction describes Harriet Pullman Carolan, the railway-car heiress for whom Carolands—a 65,000-square-foot 98-room château in the San Francisco suburb of Hillsborough—was built between 1912 and 1916. Architect Michael Middleton Dwyer goes on to establish Carolands's place in the context of other stately American houses of the day, such as North Carolina's Biltmore and Miami 's Vizcaya, and to introduce Paris architect Ernest Sanson, New York landscape architect Achille Duchêne, and San Francisco architect Willis Polk. A characteristically entertaining note by Interior Design Hall of Fame member Mario Buatta describes his work for the house's current owners, Charles and Ann Johnson.
The heart of the book is a 144-page portfolio that presents every major room. Excellent color photography by Mick Hales works beautifully with gatefold reproductions of Polk's plans and Duchêne's drawings of pergolas (unbuilt) and garden urns. Sanson's drawings include drafts for other houses that served as models for Carolands, such as his Palais Rose in Paris. Finally, there are photographs of a restoration necessitated by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Nothing seems lacking in this handsomely told story of a handsome house. While few would warrant such exhaustive attention, Carolands certainly does.
Josef Hoffmann: Interiors 1902-1913
edited by Christian Witt-Dorring
New York: Prestel and the Neue Galerie New York, $60
264 pages, 230 illustrations (65 color)
In 1928, the American magazine Architectural Forum wrote of Josef Franz Maria Hoffmann that "no recent architect has influenced Europe more comprehensively." Yet his reputation declined soon afterward, and he went unmentioned in Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock's seminal "International Style" exhibition of 1932. Today, however, Hoffman is enjoying a revival. The Neue Galerie New York—where his Wiener Werkstätte furniture, glassware, silver, ceramics, wallpaper, and textiles are on permanent display—has now mounted a re-creation of four Hoffmann interiors, designed at the height of his career. Vignettes incorporate furniture and art from his original rooms, along with new carpets and fabrics rewoven to show the original, unfaded colors.
Christian Witt-Dörring, the curator of "Josef Hoffmann: Interiors 1902-1913" has edited a fine catalog with a great deal of archival photography and a half dozen scholarly essays that greatly expand on the four interiors and their contents. The book also draws interesting comparisons between Hoffmann and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Gerrit Rietveld, and other contemporaries, providing a clearer perspective than most of us have had before on the skill, personality, and vitality of this rediscovered master.
The A-Z of Modern Design
by Bernd Polster, Claudia Neumann, Markus Schuler, and Frederick Leven
New York: Merrell Publishers, $35 paperbound
540 pages, 2,800 color illustrations
From Aalto, Aarnio, and Agape to Zanuso, Ziba, and Zumtobel, these pages feature more than 300 designers and manufacturers. Every entry compiled by this team of veteran design writers offers a brief biography, color illustrations of several designs, and a time line of accomplishments. While Mel Byars's Design Encyclopedia, as revised in 2004, still holds the record for comprehensive coverage, this new book must be the most extensive by far in terms of sheer quantity and quality of illustrations. A valuable reference.
What They're Reading. . .
Principal of UrbanLab
Atlas of Novel Tectonics
by Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto
New York: Princeton Architectural Press, $30
288 pages, 225 illustrations (25 color)
Principal of UrbanLab
An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It
by Al Gore
Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Books, $22
Like many of us, Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn can't seem to stop thinking about sustainability. It's even the subject of an installation the architects are designing for Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Conveniently, Felsen turned to Al Gore's best seller for ideas about how to tell the green story. "Visually, it offers a beautiful explanation of the topic," he says. "Pictures and graphs really drive the text's point home."
Dunn is also thinking about how technology drives the creation of spaces. And a book by the principals of architecture firm Reiser + Umemoto is giving her some serious fodder, she says: "They're using computers to push the possibilities of what can be built by investigating geometry in a new way." —Deborah Wilk