Book review

Its been a while since I last did a book post…a year in fact, so quite overdue. There’s a long weekend coming up here in Hong Kong, and usually there is nothing I love more than to get stuck into a great book. This weekend however, we have great friends arriving from Melbourne, so the reading list will have to wait. Here are a few that are on my wishlist at the moment, some old, some new. If any of you have read them, I’d love to hear what you thought.

“Beyond Chic: Great fashion designers at home” by Ivan Tereschenko – There seem to be quite a few of these style compendiums out there at the moment, but this is one that looks quite appealing to me. A voyeuristic view into the homes of the world’s greatest fashion designers, including Chanel, Alaïa, Yves Saint Laurent, Pucci, Kenzo, and Missoni. It looks like a visual feast.

Francois Hallard is one of the greatest interior photographers working today, so this self titled publication looks to be a book that I would refer back to time and again.

“Aero: Beginning to Now” by Thomas O’Brien – I have been a fan of Thomas O’Brien for as long as I can remember, and loved his first book. O’Brien’s second book is a retrospective of 20 years at the helm of the famed Aero studio and NYC store. Looks like another great reference book.

“Hubert le Gall” by Jean-Louis Gaillemin, published by arguably one of the best publishing houses in the world, Norma Editions (in my humble opinion, anyway). This monograph is dedicated to the work of one of France’s most eccentric and unclassifiable artist designers, who also happens to be a great favorite of mine. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy.

“Eyre de Lanux: An American designer in Paris” by Louis-Géraud Castor in collaboration with gallerist Willy Huybrechts – Another new edition by Norma, a monograph on little known Paris-based American designer Eyre de Lanux. The life of a well to do Pennsylvania girl who marries a French diplomat and mixes with the likes of Cocteau, Picasso, Matisse, Joyce, Stein and Man Ray, and then goes on to create beautiful furniture sounds eminently fascinating. And plus, anything published by Norma is bound to be beautiful.

“Jean Royère” published by Galerie Jacques Lacoste and Galerie Patrick Seguin. I do already have a monograph on this wonderful designer, but according to the publisher “This authoritative and sumptuous publication is the last word on this mid-century master”. Say no more, I’m sold.

“Marcel Coard, Décoraeur” by Amelie Marcilhac, published by another great French publishing house: Les Editions de l’amateur. The publisher says “An exquisite monograph on a lesser-known French interior designer whose work is characterized by an elegance and a tasteful application of material”. I am dying to add this to my collection of 20th century French design books.

“Carlo Scarpa” by Robert McCarter from Phaidon. I’m so excited to pick up a copy of this, and feel like the release is somewhat serendipitous for me. I had an epiphany a few weeks back when I sort of discovered Scarpa’s work. I had seen plenty of images over the years, and then only put all of the pieces together of the puzzle. I’m looking forward to pouring through all the wonderful images in one sitting.

“Koloman Moser: Designing modern Vienna, 1897-1907” by Christian Witt-Dorring, Angela Volker, Janis Staggs and Ernst Ploil, published Prestel in collaboration with the Neue Galerie in NYC. One of the most influential figures in European 20th century design, Moser was incredibly prolific despite his relatively short career. He created some of the most incredibly elegant and modern furniture I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to get myself a copy.

“The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City” by Nancy Berliner – I was fortunate enough to see some of the pieces in this book on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Art a while back. The screens (a detail of which is seen on the cover) captured my imagination, and the colours (which may not really be done justice in print) were ethereal and pearlescent. I would love a copy of this as a reminder and a souvenir.

“Why we build” by Rowan Moore – just as the title suggests, this book is about architecture, and the motivations behind building. What inspires great architecture, and how buildings can change and affect our lives. Moore is a trained architect, now working as an architecture critic for the Obserever in London.  

“The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home” by Pico Iyer. I promptly put this on my wishlist after I saw Iyer’s TED talk entitled Where is home? (if you haven’t, here is the link). Having lived outside of Australia for the past 10 years, in two different countries, with friends of many different nationalities, and their children with more complicated identities, this talk really touched home for me. I highly recommend it for anyone that is or has been an Expat, or is mixed-race, or has children that are mixed race. Its really illuminating, and nice to know you’re not alone. I have a feeling the book will be just as illuminating.

“Art as therapy” by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong – is the latest from everyone’s favorite philosopher. “What is art’s purpose? In this engaging, lively, and controversial new book, bestselling philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian / philosopher John Armstrong propose a new way of looking at familiar masterpieces, suggesting that they can be useful, relevant, and – above all else – therapeutic for their viewers”. Sounds like just what I need on my bed side table right now!

“Behind the scenes: Stories from the design industry” by Hanna Nova Beatrice – “Behind the Scenes gives you an inside look at today’s design industry – the challenges it faces, the commercial undercurrents that shape and define it and a glimpse of those in power” says the publisher. I absolutely loved reading “Seven Days in the Art World”, so if this is anything like that then it sounds like a real treat.  

And last, but not least, “George Condo, Mental States” by Ralph Rugoff, Laura Hoptman, Will Self and George Condo. I picked up a copy of this at the Art Fair last year and am so glad I did. A great retrospective of the work of a fascinating artist, who lives a fascinating life.
Anyone have any other recommendations for me?

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