HASSAN FATHY, EARTH & UTOPIA by Salma Samar Damluji & Viola Bertini Laurence King
“We are not concerned with the people with millions. We are concerned with those who earn millimes,” said the late Hassan Fathy (1900-1989), Egypt’s best-known 20th-century architect. Known for his commitment to designing for the rural poor, his legacy as a humanitarian and architect is brought to life in this critical new volume – the very first on Fathy.
Organised in two parts, ‘The Culture and Philosophy’ and ‘ Design, Planning and Earth Construction’, the book’s 368 pages and 450 illustrations present a man far ahead of his time and yet acutely aware of his present.
The excellent interviews conducted by the author, together with the photographs and drawings from the Hassan Fathy archives and Fathy’s own writings are all compelling, but it’s Salma Samar Damluji’s ‘ Personal Encounter’ essay that steals the show with its reflections. Another fine essay is Viola Bertini’s ‘ Watercolours: The Logic and Poetics of Representation’, which explains Fathy’s research on the techniques, materials and forms that might define an architectural language to investigate Egypt’s ‘identity’.
This book is an absolute must-have for the library of anyone interested in architecture, design and sustainability, and the importance of social and political justice via these fields.
VERNER PANTON by Ida Engholm and Anders Michelsen Phaidon
“Choosing colours should not be a gamble. It should be a conscious decision. Colours have a meaning and a function,” said Danish designer Verner Panton. This fascinating new comprehensive monograph is a vibrant exploration of the life and work of this post-war designer.
Each of the book’s five chapters explores his radical design processes. Like Panton’s designs, the 359 illustrations throughout the volume create a visual narrative that’s colourful and uncompromising. Every chapter presents his furnishings, accessories and spaces using a blend of mesmerising images and thorough research.
But it’s the second chapter, ‘Trailblazer: The Neo-Avante-Garde’, that stands apart. Filled with images of Panton’s work presented in top fashion magazines and in product shots that could be mistaken as stills from a science fiction film, it illustrates the connections he made between evolving social mores, fashion and form. It also describes the key moment in 1967 when Panton presented the ‘S’ chair – the first chair in history moulded from a single piece of plastic – to the world.
Once you open this daring volume, it’s impossible to close. Perfect for design lovers, it’s an ideal illustration of how optimism, critical thinking – and an insistence on joy – are always in style.