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Six Favorite Design Books

When I was growing up in Los Angeles I was a bookworm because I was a kind of lonely child, and I managed to get lost in the fantastic 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, to boot. There is nothing like the tactile sensation of the weight of a book in your hand and the action of turning the pages. For me it is a loving homage to the written words and the beautiful images contained in the pages of a book.

That’s why I have a large collection of books at home – most of these are design books, of course. Not only are they valuable s of knowledge and inspiration to which I repeatedly turn, but they also provide ease of use that is simply not available on the Internet or on an e-reader. Unlike a novel, which you read from the first to the last page, design books are made to be browsed through. And you simply can’t browse a portable device like a book.

So with that, here are my six favorite design books:

1. Judith Miller, “Furniture: world styles from classic to contemporary”. Hands down, the best book on identifying styles. Full of details, details, details. Information on materials, because something looks like this, juicy morsels, people and events that influence furniture design. This is the book I wish I had written! It’s my bible

2. Christopher Payne (general manager), “Sotheby’s Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture”. Christopher Payne is an Englishman and has the clear and fascinating way of writing that the British are famous for. This is one of my reference books for quick and concise information on a particular style.

3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Halls of the period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art”. Stunning images of the fabulous Met rooms from Jacobean to Frank Lloyd Wright.

4. Frederick Litchfield, “Illustrated history of furniture: from the oldest to the present.” I have the 1893 edition that I printed from the Gutenberg Project and it’s fabulous! Incredibly detailed illustrations of period furniture and halls. There are no photos, only detailed illustrations. Many juicy details about various designers and historical characters.

5. Mario Praz, “An illustrated history of interior decoration: from Pompeii to Art Nouveau”. Mainly illustrated through paintings of the period, but a great re of entire room schemes seen through the eyes of the artists.

6. Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester, “Great American homes and their architectural styles”. Beautiful photos and floor plans of some of the best examples of American architectural styles.


by Eleanor Schrader

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