Give the Gift of Good Design this Year

One intangible the holidays present us with is the gift of time to reflect on what’s most important in our world today. For this writer, rhythmic prose and good design are near the top of that list. So I’ve selected a few books addressing those subjects – believing that any architect, artisan or aficionado will find them both interesting and thought-provoking too.

There’s “Mr. Waffles Loves Design,” by Lisa S. Roberts. She’s documented her new shelter cat climbing, jumping, rubbing, and sleeping on her contemporary furniture and products – including Michael Graves’ Teakettle, Ron Arad’s Bookworm, Harry Allen’s Pig Bank, and a Corolla Chair made of orange wire. Rather than freaking out over her cat’s escapades, Roberts started snapping photos. They became the inspiration for this whimsical and lavishly illustrated book. To see it, go here.

A perennial favorite is “Dream of Venice Architecture,” by JoAnn Locktov. In it, a cadre of architects and architectural writers – this one included – explore the elements that make Venice a one-of-a-kind, drop-dead-gorgeous place in this world. The introduction by Richard Goy – a brief history and description of just how this breathtaking city came to be – is worth the price of admission. For more, go here.

Then there’s “Native Places,” by North Carolina-based architect, artist and author Frank Harmon. A regional modernist who designed the nation’s first and only from-the-ground-up state AIA headquarters building, Harmon is as equally gifted with a pen as he is designing a building. That means both drawing and writing. His newest effort, with 64 sketches and essays, has sold 20,000 copies and is in its third printing. For more, go here.

Finally, there’s “Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand,” a book I penned in 2015. In it, 26 architects describe their process for taking a project from parti to finished building, with sketches, plans, sections, and photographs guiding the reader along the way. Included are projects by Peter Bohlin, Jim Cutler, Tom Kundig, and the late Michael Graves and Phil Freelon. For more, go here.

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