Growing up in Los Angeles, I was a bookworm because I was a lonely little girl who could lose myself in the fantasy world of books. My parents encouraged me to read and I read everything I could get my hands on. As an adult, I’m still a voracious reader – and a speed reader at that. There’s nothing like the tactile feel of a book’s weight in your hand and the pages turning. To me it is a loving homage to the written words and beautiful images contained within the pages of a book.
That’s why I have an impressive collection of books at home – most of them design books, of course. Not only are they valuable sources of knowledge and inspiration that I return to time and time again, they also offer an ease of use that simply isn’t available on the web or on an e-reader. Unlike a novel that you read from cover to cover, design books are meant to be flipped through. And you just can’t flip through a portable device like you can through a book.
So, here are my six favorite design books:
1. Judith Miller, “Furniture: World Styles from Classic to Contemporary.” Undoubtedly the best book for recognizing styles. Filled with details, details, details. Information on materials, why things look the way they do, juicy tidbits, the people and events that influence furniture design. This is the book I wish I had written! it’s my bible
2. Christopher Payne (Editor-in-Chief), “Sotheby’s Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture”. Christopher Payne is British and has the snappy and charming writing that Brits are known for. This is one of my favorite books for quick and concise information on a specific style.
3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Period Rooms in the Metropolitan Museum of Art”. Lush images of the Met’s fabulous historic rooms from Jacobean to Frank Lloyd Wright.
4. Frederick Litchfield, “The Illustrated History of Furniture: From its Beginnings to the Present Day.” I have the 1893 edition that I printed off from Project Gutenberg and it’s fabulous! Incredibly detailed illustrations of furniture and period rooms. There are no photos, only detailed illustrations. Lots of juicy details about different designers and historical figures.
5. Mario Praz, “An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: From Pompeii to Art Nouveau.” Mostly illustrated by paintings from the period, but a great source of entire room schemes seen through the artist’s eyes.
6. Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester, Great American Houses and Their Architectural Styles. Beautiful photos and floor plans of some of the finest examples of American architectural styles.
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