Five books to navigate the complicated world of design
Authors take us on explorations of design, ranging from self-indulgent journeys to sound advice on decorating with all that is tarnished, chipped and faded.
Ryland Peters & Small, hardcover, $34
Retro interiors, from the mid-century modern period to the opulence of the 1970s, are back in style, and who better to explain this look than author and interior designer Andrew Weaving in Living Retro. Weaving is also the author of Modern Retro and owns Century, a London gallery specializing in mid-century modern design. Among the 17 homes featured in Living Retro is Weaver’s own loft, a former factory and Britain’s first industrial-to residential-loft conversion. As Weaving explains, living retro is an obvious way to make a loft space a unique home, and he has plenty of ideas worth copying. Other homes featured include the Palm Springs home immortalized by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in W Magazine and New York “happy chic” designer Jonathan Adler’s New York condo, to name a few. The gorgeous homes are well chosen and demonstrate how to tie together vintage furniture, quirky objects, colour and pattern to create enviable living spaces. Bazaar Style: Decorating with Market and Vintage Finds Ryland Peters & Small, hardcover, $34
This book by Selina Lake and Joanna Simmons is for those who love the tarnished, chipped and faded. There’s nothing formulaic or mundane here. In fact, the authors seem genuinely sorry for homeowners with high-tech kitchens, featuring strong lines and stainless-steel units.
They much prefer colourful, sensual cooking spaces with freestanding pieces. Their suggestion to right this wrong without removing those expensive, clinical looking cabinets is creating a backdrop for them with colourful, bold wallpaper, with clear plastic on top to create a practical wipe-clean backsplash.
This book tackles every room of the house — from kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms to outdoor rooms — with lots of advice on how to pull the look together. While the style is all about mixing objects, colours and patterns, it’s still not a “design free-forall.” The authors teach readers how to create visually interesting rooms but not end up with visual chaos. Kim Parker Home: A Life in Design Stewart, Tabori & Chang, hardcover, $33
New York artist Kim Parker is known for her lyrical, colourful flower prints — in paintings and on the runway. Now, in Kim Parker Home: A Life in Design she showcases another forum for her art on dinnerware, rugs, bedding and bath collections. But for design addicts this book will likely disappoint because the only home featured is her own. This book is less about “home” and more about the creative process for the artist, specifically Parker, who comes across as self-indulgent.
Her account of her career in the fashion industry also allows her to highlight other accolades bestowed on her, which doesn’t add much to the reader’s knowledge of design. Lively Little Tour of 101 Favorite Collectibles Sterling Publishing Co., softcover, $20
This book by Jessie Walker does exactly what is promised in the title. Walker, who features many of her own collections, picks some of the most popular items out of the “11,000 recognized collectibles.”
It’s a practical guide, especially for those new to collecting, to get an idea on what is worth searching for while strolling antique malls, flea markets or bidding at auctions or on eBay. Whether its Bakelite jewelry, Majolica pottery or antique silver, Walker gives a short description of the history of the item and how to spot a fake. Midwest Modern: A Fresh Design for the Modern Lifestyle Stewart, Tabori & Chang, hardcover, $42
Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern: A Fresh Design for the Modern Lifestyle proves there’s more to design that what is seen on either the east or west coast.
Butler, who designs fabrics, home accessories and fashion items, hails from the U.S. heartland and has a “mid-mod” philosophy rooted in midwest traditions, where the emphasis is on simplicity, reusing materials and appreciating the homemade.
The how-to-projects are fairly simple to do and include not only home items, like pillows and slipcovers, but classic clothing items and even a list of Butler’s favourite aromatherapy oils — a list that doesn’t seem out of place at all in a book with which the author wants to share not only her design patterns, but useful tips on living well.
As she says, “Life itself is artistic.”
Canwest News Service