Pick Six: Design Books
Choosing six titles from my relatively vast library of modern design and architecture is not as easy as it may seem. I have many personal favorites: do I select for age, rarity, graphic interest, or subject matter? To make my task easier, I limited myself to the bookshelves directly behind the desk in my office area, and also decided that this would be the first in a series, so look for Pick Six: More Design Books somewhere down the line.
In no particular order, the first six books I've chosen are:
• Form and Reform, by Paul Frankl. First edition, published in 1930. A seminal text tracking early modernist influences on American design from Frankl's own skyscraper pieces, which helped create an indigenous language for design, to the high French modernism of Chareau and Rodier. This volume retains the original dust jacket, exceedingly rare in an extremely hard-to-find item in any state.
• Paul Laszlo, hardcover portfolio, 1958. A survey of Laszlo's work in full color, from residential and commercial commissions to production pieces. All but two of the pages are still attached; they were intended to pull out.
• Nine Chains to the Moon, by Buckminster Fuller. First edition, published in 1938. Fuller fascinates me, in all his idiosyncratic versatility: as designer, architect, engineer, thinker, writer, environmentalist, and living bridge to 19th century Transcendentalism. Someday, I hope to write about him. This is his first book.
• Form, by Max Bill. First edition with dust jacket, published in 1952. Sure, this is a rare and valuable book, particularly with the jacket, but I bought it years ago, and value it for its content. Bill was another polymath, a giant of 20th century design and art, and a brilliant editor.
• Decoration: Tradition et Renouveau, edited by Francis Spar, published in Paris in 1973. Flat out, one of the best volumes of interior design ever published. Covers the 60's and early 70's with one chic and amazing interior after another.
• Mobili e Interni di Architetti Italiani. Published in Milan in 1952. Couldn't get through this list without something edited by Ponti, in this case Lisa. A slim and rare volume packed to the gills with the crème de la crème of Italian mid-century art, design, and interiors. The William Klein designed dust jacket doesn't hurt.