Bookshelf

20th Century Pattern Design
WRITTEN BY Lesley Jackson
DESIGNED BY Fiona Knowles
PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS,
224 pp., $40

In this update of Lesley Jackson’s extensive survey of pattern design, the author takes us on a twentieth-century journey along which we meet pioneers such as William Morris, Annika Rimala, and Jun-ichi Arai. The story is told through these seminal designers, with secondary attention paid to wallpaper and textile companies and manufac-turing techniques. While the visuals are pure eye candy, the stories behind the images will engage even the novice design enthusiast. This release is published to coincide with the exhibition British Design 1948–2012 at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, a part of the city’s 2012 Olympics celebration.

Advanced Textiles for Health and Well-Being
WRITTEN BY Marie O’Mahony
DESIGNED BY Bianca Wendt
THAMES AND HUDSON,
240 pp., $50

The world of high-performance textiles can be bewildering, as evidenced by the two materials chosen for the cover of this book: a shiny metal composite that Tokujin Yoshioka used for his Memory Chair, and a bubbly pink foam made out of hard ceramics. Neither comes to mind when one says “cloth,” but Marie O’Mahony structures her deeply researched material convincingly. One half of the book deals with the physical properties of new textiles, while the other showcases some spectacular applications—like using a geosynthetic fabric to prevent the shoreline erosion in Australia. Architects and designers who want to be cutting-edge couldn’t ask for a handier reference.

A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920–1950
WRITTEN BY John Stuart Gordon
DESIGNED BY Alex Drexler Jacobson
YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS,
438 pp., $75

In 2008, John C. Waddell, a prominent collector of American modern design, donated more than 150 of his finds to the Yale University Art Gallery, lofting the institution into the top tier of those specializing in the period. An exhibition celebrating Waddell’s gift closed earlier this month; those who couldn’t see it will be well served by this related catalog, which organizes nearly 300 examples of the gallery’s American design holdings into a dozen broad categories. Some of the most striking objects from Waddell’s bequest include a Henry Dreyfuss herb chopper that resembles a miniature atom bomb, and a pair of cog-shaped bookends from 1929 that embody the era’s infatuation with machine-age forms.

The Electric Information Age Book
WRITTEN BY Jeffrey Schnapp and Adam Michaels
DESIGNED BY Adam Michaels
PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS,
216 pp., $20

This book looks at the mass-market paperback during its heyday in the late 1960s and the 1970s, when editors and designers produced a series of exceptional books, marrying important writers like Marshall McLuhan, R. Buckminster Fuller, Carl Sagan, and Jerry Rubin with radical visual techniques—collages, eclectic typography, multipage cinematic sequences—that became as crucial to the books as their texts. McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s 1967 The Medium is the Massage—a book that sold almost 500,000 copies within six months of its publication—was the quintessential title of that era, and serves as the model for this book.

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