RSS   RSS 2.0   ATOM XML Sign up for our monthly newsletter:

19 posts categorized "Books"

July 25, 2014

Mies must-read.

Screen shot 2014-07-25 at 10.31.19 AM
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Photo courtesy of Phaidon

Did you know that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies? Find out what else you don’t know about this master of modern design in Detlef Mertins’ extraordinary monograph, Mies (Phaidon).


Few authors could have written this book, and it reveals as much about Mies as it does about Dr. Detlef Mertins, who was uniquely qualified for the task. Mertins spent a decade researching and writing this monograph but sadly died before it was published, at 56. He spent the last 10 years of his life living Mies, and I cannot imagine a more touching and selfless tribute to one of the 20th century’s most influential architects.

860–880 Lake Shore Drive, 1948–51, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Photo courtesy of Phaidon

Growing up with a father who was an architect and a mother who worked for Knoll, Mertins’ appreciation of the built world began in childhood. Born in Stuttgart and raised in Canada, he had an understanding of German and North American culture, which served him well in his roles as architect, historian and writer and as professor of architectural history and theory at the University of Pennsylvania. An avid reader, his Toronto home had to be structurally reinforced to support the weight of his library of more than 4,000 titles that were recently donated to Penn.

Continue reading "Mies must-read." »

June 20, 2014

What we're reading: Mies


We're kicking off our summer reading with Detlef Mertins' amazing monograph, Mies (Phaidon). A full review will follow in a few weeks (or however long it takes to meander through 560 pages of Mies). Until then, drop us a comment to let us know what you're reading or to suggest what we should read next.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 1.24.13 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 1.27.49 PM
The Farnsworth House. Photos courtesy of Phaidon.

Looking for another book to dive into? Check out our review of Cape Cod Modern (Metropolis Books).

April 29, 2014

Cape Cod Modern must-read.


“Walter Gropius was tired.” That is the fabulous first sentence to this engaging book by Peter McMahon and Christine Cipriani. A sweeping celebration of modernism anchored by a strong sense of place, Cape Cod Modern: Midcentury Architecture and Community on the Outer Cape from Metropolis Books is a must-read for anyone interested in architecture, maritime history, artistic communities, the Cape itself, Yankee do-it-yourself determination and Thoreauvian love of the land.

Hatch House designed by Jack Hall in 1962. Photo by Jack Hall.

McMahon and Cipriani spent seven years archiving a verbal history that was fading fast, and without their efforts this mostly unknown chapter in the history of modern architecture would’ve been forever lost. “While outer Cape Cod’s contributions to twentieth-century art, theater and literature are well known, its profusion of midcentury architecture has gone mostly unnoticed,” they write. “Ironically, this was somewhat deliberate.”

Hatch House by Jack Hall. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

These small informal houses were often hidden in the woods, situated so as not to disturb the land and constructed with inexpensive, off-the-shelf materials. Many were even made with salvaged materials, a practice perfected by colonial Cape Codders who were dependent upon shipwrecks to supply them with lumber to build on these shores. “This ad hoc, improvisational quality is what sets Cape Cod modernism apart from other regional adaptations of the modern movement,” write the authors.

Continue reading "Cape Cod Modern must-read." »

February 07, 2014

He designed the DWR logo, wondering what he reads?


Kit Hinrichs, the designer of the DWR logo, shares the books that inspire him with Designers & Books. From Irving Penn - "His imagery is the gold standard for art direction and photography" - to Robert Frank - "Perhaps the most influential documentarian of American culture," you're sure to find must-reads (and must re-reads) on this list.



November 15, 2013

The Gift of Know-How: Books.

Steve Kroeter in his book-filled living room.

"One of the terrific things about living in New York is that there are many great bookstores," says Steve Kroeter, founder and editor in chief of Designers & Books.

Launched in 2011, Designers & Books is an advocate for books as an important source of inspiration for creativity, innovation, and invention. Steve and his team publish lists of books that members of the international design community identify as important and formative. We recently turned the tables on Steve and asked him for a list of his favorite books, which led to a discussion about favorite book sellers.


Continue reading "The Gift of Know-How: Books." »

May 30, 2013

Heavy beach reading.

Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 3.52.31 PM
Noppenhalle, Zurich - Baierbischofberger Architects. Photo: Phaidon Publishing.

Forget flimsy paperbacks this summer; my recommendation is Concrete, a must-have architecture book from Phaidon. Written and edited by William Hall, with an essay by Leonard Koren, this visual stunner will amaze and intrigue you. Think concrete is a cold, dull material? These 240 pages will change your mind.

Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 3.55.23 PM
Pradolongo Housing - Madrid-Wiel Arets. Photo: Phaidon Publishing.


March 05, 2013

How you can help publish a book about modern design.

Bruno Mathsson’s home in Varnamo, Sweden. Photo: Leslie Williamson

Author Leslie Williamson has nine days left in her kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to launch her latest book: Handcrafted Modern Europe. With $32K raised toward her $41K goal, she's almost there, and any contribution will help. For a pledge of $100, you'll receive a first edition of the book, signed by the author. Williamson is the author of Handcrafted Modern: At Home with Mid Century Designers, published by Rizzoli in 2010.

Alvar Aalto's house in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Leslie Williamson

December 31, 2012

The best books we read in 2012.

In the creative department at DWR, we love books as much as we love modern design. Looking back at the page turners that kept us up until 2AM, we've compiled a list of our favorite reads in 2012. Feel free to share your own best books in our comments field.

Screen shot 2012-12-20 at 5.41.38 PM   Screen shot 2012-12-20 at 5.45.03 PM    Screen shot 2012-12-21 at 4.01.03 PM

EMILY: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

MARK: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes was an excellently written journey into memory and imagination, and eventually a surprising sadness.

MICHAEL: It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels by Robert Penn

Continue reading "The best books we read in 2012." »

November 14, 2012

Diane Keaton book launch at DWR.

Sara diane
Diane Keaton with DWR account executive Sara Zofko

We were proud to welcome Oscar-winning film star and architecture preservationist Diane Keaton to our Beverly Boulevard Studio for the release of her new book, House. Published by Rizzoli, House is a stunning portrayal of what’s possible in domesticated spaces. It showcases rusticated, reimagined or repurposed homes across the country.

HOUSE photo

November 12, 2012

Eva Zeisel: The Life of a Remarkable Woman.

Photo by Jim Bastardo for DWR

Eva Zeisel would have turned 106 tomorrow, and even though we lost this talented designer last year, the world still celebrates Eva. A new e-book "Eva Zeisel: A Soviet Prison Memoir" will be presented tomorrow by PEN American Center, A Public Space magazine and Strand Book Store. The event will include a reading of Eva's prison memoirs and audio recordings of Eva herself. Admission is $12.

When: November 13, 7:30PM
Where: Strand Book Store, in the Rare Book Room, 828 Broadway (at 12th Street), NYC

Photo by Jim Bastardo for DWR

April 23, 2012

Ralph Caplan honored with AIGA Medal.

Photo by Judith Ramquist, courtesy of AIGA.

“A chair is the first thing you need when you don’t really need anything,” wrote Ralph Caplan. “And is therefore a peculiarly compelling symbol of civilization. For it is civilization, not survival, that requires design.” One of the best design critics of our time, a fantastic writer and an inspiring teacher, Ralph Caplan can now add AIGA Medalist to his list of titles.

Continue reading "Ralph Caplan honored with AIGA Medal." »

March 08, 2012

Steve Jobs: one Eichler, two errors.

Not an Eichler #1: The Jobs family's ranch-style house in Los Altos, CA.

The architecture world was abuzz last October when Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs revealed that the Apple CEO grew up in a house designed by Joe Eichler. Unfortunately, most bloggers shared the news with a photo of Jobs’ Los Altos house (site of the famous garage, shown above), which is not an Eichler. The house Isaacson was referring to is in Mountain View, California, where the family lived until Steve was 14. However, that isn’t an Eichler either. Rather, it is the work of Eichler’s original architectural team, Anshen and Allen, for Mackay Homes. Eichlers and Mackays are similar, but there are major differences in the foundation, heating, materials and style.

Not an Eichler #2: the Jobs family's home in Mountain View, CA. Photo: David Toerge

Continue reading "Steve Jobs: one Eichler, two errors." »

August 01, 2011

KnollTextiles: 1945–2010.

  Screen shot 2011-08-01 at 1.48.18 PM

Photo by Robert Damora, courtesy of KnollTextiles: Knoll showroom at 601 Madison Avenue, New York, in 1948. View of installation with string screen by Herbert Matter and textile display. 

On Friday, DWR was treated to a guided tour of "KnollTextiles: 1945–2010" at the Bard Graduate Center. The exhibit, four floors filled with textiles and archival materials of KnollTextiles from its founding in 1947 to present day, closed yesterday, but a comprehensive book of the exhibit entitled KnollTextiles: 1945–2010 is now available through Yale University Press.

Known for her “full design” approach to interiors, Florence Knoll (née Schust) started KnollTextiles as a way to increase business for Knoll, the furniture company founded by her husband Hans Knoll. She wanted to develop a proprietary line of textiles focused on experimental fibers and materials that employed techniques in response to changing environments and needs. In turn, she built a legacy of pioneering female designers that began with Eszter Haraszty and today continues with Creative Director Dorothy Cosonas.

Continue reading "KnollTextiles: 1945–2010." »

February 28, 2011

A Hue-morous Way to Organize Your Books.


Starring an ordinary bookshelf with the extraordinary ability to single-handedly coordinate its contents by hue, this playful stop-motion animation video by Sean Ohlenkamp and Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp may tempt even the most stringent catalogers to reconsider their organizational methods.

Tell us, how do you organize your bookshelf? By subject? By author? By color?

September 24, 2010

Knoll Sale: Free Book Offer.

Learn more about the history of Knoll® with this visually rich and informative book published by Rizzoli. During our Knoll Sale (September 24–October 3), you’ll receive a free copy of this book (a $75 value) with the purchase of $5,000 or more of Knoll products. The book will ship separately and should arrive 2–4 weeks after you place your order. Applies to orders placed on our website, at our Studios or with our Call Center (1.800.944.2233).

May 03, 2007

Easy does it.


In my daily internet wanderings, most of it work related, some of it not, I stumbled on the latest work by filmmaker, performing artist and writer, Miranda July. She has a new book, a collection of stories, coming out in May. If you don’t know of her, she also wrote, directed and starred in the feature-length film, Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Camera d’Or. If you haven’t seen it, add it to your Netflix queue now. I really love her work, but what made me think about things differently, was the website supporting her new book. Its design is completely simple, relying mostly on text. Its message is totally clear, here’s my book, buy it now. And best of all it does it in a unique, compelling way (she probably wouldn’t want me to say cute, but it is). I think much of what I see being designed for the web is overly complicated. I appreciate how July goes utterly simple. See what I mean here. She’s coming to Modern Times bookstore in San Francisco on May 18th. I’ll be there, first in line I hope.

February 07, 2007

Passion For Taschen


Benedikt Taschen has finally landed in New York’s SoHo district, after closing a pop-up shop over a year ago, and the only grievance that comes to mind: What took so long? Taschen has long been the go-to publisher for coffee table books that march to their own drummer. Taschen’s books are not for the masses. They’re for people who get “it.” And by “it” I mean style, design, countercultures and sex.

Judging from recent Taschen books, including Butt Book, a compilation from the gay Dutch sex/fashion mag and The Big Book of Breasts (the title says it all), you’d think their minds (and books) were in the gutter.  But this is also the company that recently compiled Domus in the form of a twelve-volume reprint.  So they know what their doing.

The NYC shop was designed by DWR fave Philippe Starck and features a colorful mural by Beatriz Milhazes  It has quickly become our favorite place to browse books full of the art we wish we could afford and the houses we wished we live in. And the people watching is not bad to boot!

February 02, 2007

Leadership is an art.


Part of the fun of working for Design Within Reach is discovering and falling in love with the products we sell, their designers and the companies that bring good design to the masses.  One of my great loves is Herman Miller, home to the iconic designs of Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson and Alexander Girard. They're also the manufacturers of Chadwick and Stumpf's Aeron chair and the new Leaf Light designed by SF-based Yves Béhar. Their catalog is a design-junkie's dream.

What is equally impressive about Herman Miller is the culture that exists at their Michigan corporate headquarters.  After recently reading Max DePree's wonderful book Leadership is an Art, I am even more impressed with HM.  DePree is one-time Herman Miller CEO (and son of its original visionary). The book was written in 1989, yet its lessons still resonate today. Not only has it helped me to become a more effective leader, but it has also allowed me a glimpse into the design of Herman Miller's people, and they're much more impressive than any piece of furniture. I even sent a copy to our CEO.  I suggest you grab your own.

December 08, 2006

Data Design


I took a day off from work yesterday to attend a conference featuring Edward Tufte. He writes, designs and self-publishes books on analytical design, which have received more than 40 awards for content and design. Yesterday he spoke on “Presenting Data and Information.” Sounds a bit dry, right? But it’s actually fascinating to web geeks like myself. Anyone who has to share information with customers, co-workers, managers – anyone really – should consider checking out his books. And, if you have the chance, try and catch a lecture. Warning, he’s a wee bit, full of himself. At the end of the conference, the music started up  (perfectly cued), and he took a bow – for a second I felt like I was at a music concert. Nevertheless, what he has to teach is pretty powerful, so I had to agree that the clapping was well-deserved.