Today inspiration brings to you the third part of the project, “Most Iconic Books”. The other seven books that Stanley Abercrombie the architecture and interior design editor and author recommended to us if we want to follow interior design as a profession or if we simply like the world of interior decor.
Le’ts started with the book Module, Proportion, Symmetry, Rhythm (Vision + Value Series) by Gyorgy Kepes, this volume never specifically mentions interior design, but its 13 essays (by artists, architects, a geneticist, and a mathematician) are repeatedly relevant to it. One example, the essay by art psychologist Rudolf Arnheim, begins: “One of the basic visual experiences is that of right or wrong. . .The shape of a house, a shelf, or a picture frame may repose contentedly or show a need to improve by stretching or shrinking.”
2 – Growth and Form by Wentworth Thompson, this book is a fundamental and poetically written book about the material world for which we must design, about how things grow and why they take the shapes they do, about weakness and strength, speed and size, symmetry and asymmetry, and the partitioning of space. I recommend the 1961 Cambridge University Press abridged edition.
3- Pioneers of Modern Design: From William Morris to Walter Gropius by Nikolaus Pevsner, this book teaches the importance to the modernism of such transitional figures as William Morris, H. H. Richardson, Victor Horta, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Louis Sullivan. As Pevsner states, it shows that “the new style, the genuine and legitimate style of our [20th] century, was achieved by 1914.” The 2005 edition adds color illustrations and brings the story forward to Wright’s Guggenheim Museum and Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp chapel.
4 – The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, four years before his death, French philosopher Bachelard wrote of the character of such spaces as cellars, attics, forests, nests, shells, huts, and drawers and considered what roles they play in our imaginations. He asked designers to envision the experiences their designs will generate, not to work with abstractions that may not affect their inhabitants. He opposed Cartesian logic and celebrated poetry, play, and daydreams. He was against the square and for the round. A dense book, best to be read slowly, glancing up occasionally for a daydream.
5- Problems of Design by George Nelson, is well known for his furniture design, but he should be at least as much appreciated for his often iconoclastic writings about design. The design problems he observed in the adolescence of modern design are with us still, though rarely as wittily considered.
6 –John Ruskin wrote The Stones of Venice as a polemic favoring Venetian Gothic style over the “pestilent” design of the Renaissance, this passionate book can now be read as a marvel of close observation and imaginative description of buildings and their interiors. Many modern readers, however, may prefer the 1960 one-volume abridged edition to the original three-volume version of 1851–53.
And finally, Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau E. B. White once wrote that Walden was “a good argument for traveling light.” Surely such an argument for communing with nature, economy, liberty, and above all the simplicity is a text from which a great many interior designers could benefit.