Art and Design Books No Coffee Table Should Be Without
Our favorite reads this winter—for gifting (or keeping).
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:53 AM
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John Waters famously said, “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t %$#! ’em!” We don’t want to make any promises we can’t keep, but having these books on your coffee table will at least get the conversation going.
Personal library fully stocked? Then cross some names off your list. The art and design-minded people in your life will be thrilled to unwrap any of these on Christmas morning.
Ettore Sottsass, $79.95, Phaidon Press
Design history aficionados will appreciate this book on architect and furniture designer Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis Group. Though short-lived, Memphis made a lasting impact as a style we associate with the graphic trends of the ‘80s. Recall the opening credits of Saved by the Bell—its onslaught of zig zags, zips, and marble notebook textures in high-octane colors vibrating to the television show’s theme song—this is Memphis in motion.
David Hockney, $60, Tate Publishing
David Hockney’s retrospective at Tate Britain has just landed on our shores, having opened at the Met this month. For the state-side iteration of the exhibition, the hardcover catalogue, exhaustive in its 200-plus plates and numerous companion essays, has received a new, blood orange cover. Though less companionable at 27 x 47 inches, Taschen’s oversized edition will make an even bigger splash amongst Hockney die-hards.
Yves Saint Laurent Accessories, $74.95, Phaidon Press
“I like dresses to be sober and accessories to be wild,” said Yves Saint Laurent in 1977. So of course, you can expect the book on the late designer’s couture accessories to be a testament to his design genius. Spanning the years between his first collection in 1962 and his last in 2002, it is the definitive source on this aspect of Saint Laurent’s work. The book—with the edges of its pages painted cobalt blue to match its cover—is an accessory in and of itself; a beautiful design object you’ll want to showcase.
The Authentics: A Lush Dive into the Substance of Style, $42.75, Potter/Tenspeed/Harmony
Founding Domino editor Dara Caponigro’s collaboration with photographer Melanie Acevedo is high on our list of giftable books this year, and not just because she’s part of the family. The book offers unprecedented access into the spaces and lives of a cast of “authentics” that includes Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, and Christian Louboutin. Their way of living and designing with originality and individuality will undoubtedly inspire readers to do the same.
Ellsworth Kelly, $125, Phaidon Press
The definitive monograph on Ellsworth Kelly, produced in close collaboration with the artist before his death in 2015, charts his decades long career—from the 1940s to his final projects. The red linen clad book—a behemoth effort by Tricia Paik that collects over 150 full color plates and four accompanying essays by leading Kelly scholars—will appeal to both the causal Kelly fan who will recognize his iconic, hard-edged geometric forms, and to the bonafide aficionado who will relish reading about lesser known work, such as Kelly’s botanical drawings and photography.
Surf Shacks, $60, Gestalten Infinite Space, $60, Gestalten Hide and Seek, $60, Gestalten
Almost any of Gestalten’s books on architecture and interiors is sure to have even the most hardened city dwellers rethinking their choices. Infinite Space showcases homes that open out onto nature or invite it in. Hide and Seek, on cabins and hideouts, or Surf Shacks, on just that, will have them scheming for a weekend getaway. Prepare for endless hours of daydreaming—okay, envy. A neat stack of these on a coffee table, with their jade hard covers, will just have to do until you close on that fixer upper in the middle of nowhere.
Robert Ryman, $150, Phaidon Press
Robert Ryman’s work as a painter spans six decades, and in that time, he has held steadfastly to a strict palette of white. Ryman’s exploration, documented in this monograph, is proof that restraint—not necessity—is the mother of all invention. The result? A riveting range of variations on a theme.
Spectrum, $59.95, Phaidon Press
John Pawson’s work as an architect is devoid of color, but in his work as a photographer, a brilliant colorist is born—not to mention an exquisite book maker. The aptly titled Spectrum groups and sequences images according to color. Flip through its pages and observe the subtle gradations at play: an experience as subtle and stunning as a sunset.
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