Best Sellers

Best-Selling Design Books, North America: September 2013

October 10, 2013

This list of best-selling design books is compiled from the individual best-seller lists (you can click on each list below) provided for September 2013 by our North American featured booksellers:

Arcana: Books on the Arts, Book Soup, CCA Bookstore, Collected Works, Hennessey + Ingalls Art & Architecture Bookstore, Labyrinth Books (Princeton, NJ)Peter Miller Books, Powell’s Books, Rizzoli Bookstore, Skylight Books, William Stout Architectural Books, Swipe Design | Books + Objects, and Van Alen Books.

CLOG: Sci-Fi Kyle May et al., Editors

# 1 Design Best Seller at McNally Jackson, New York (January 2014 and December 2013).

From the Publisher. Rod Serling, creator of the 1950s television series The Twilight Zone, defined science fiction as "the improbable made possible." The same might be said for the practice of architecture. After all, architects by trade conceive of spaces, places, and worlds that do not (yet) exist. Furthermore, the ability to make the improbable possible is held in especially high regard today and is oftentimes what defines an architectural practice as “innovative” in the first place.

It is therefore not surprising that a two-way artistic influence between architecture and science fiction has long existed. Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis depicted a future world in 2026 that drew heavily on contemporary art deco and Modernist building precedents. On the other hand, avant-garde 1960s design practices such as Archigram openly adopted concepts and representation techniques from postwar pulp science fiction. Most recently, a number of designs from significant international offices have exhibited a striking resemblance to science fiction icons, such as the Death Star, demonstrating the impact this genre has had on the creative imagination of a generation.

The feedback loop between fiction and reality remains strong today, with kilometer-high towers rising in the Middle East, new building materials emerging on a seemingly daily basis, and unconventional—if not outright bizarre—shapes blanketing our cities and countrysides. As science fiction continues to both draw upon historic and contemporary architecture while simultaneously influencing future design, it is time to critically examine the improbable made possible: SCI-FI.

Donald Olsen: Architect of Habitable Abstractions Pierluigi Serraino

From the Publisher. The purist houses of Donald Olsen stand out as remarkably durable achievements among the post-war architectural heritage of the San Francisco Bay Area. Inspired by the curriculum that Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer brought from Germany's Bauhaus to Harvard's Graduate School of Design, Olsen's designs were deeply rooted in the Modern Movement in 20th century Europe, and the architect remained committed to this aesthetic all his life. Olsen's allegiance to these ideals drove his personal and professional itinerary, and sustained him as both an architect and an educator at the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley. Richly illustrated with drawings, plans, and photographs, this book fully documents these little known examples of high modernism in Northern California.

Building Seagram Phyllis Lambert
Foreword by Barry Bergdoll

From the Publisher. The Seagram building rises over New York’s Park Avenue, seeming to float above the street with perfect lines of bronze and glass. Considered one of the greatest icons of twentieth-century architecture, the building was commissioned by Samuel Bronfman, founder of the Canadian distillery dynasty Seagram. Bronfman’s daughter Phyllis Lambert was twenty-seven years old when she took over the search for an architect and chose Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), a pioneering modern master of what he termed “skin and bones” architecture. Mies, who designed the elegant, deceptively simple thirty-eight-story tower along with Philip Johnson (1906–2005), emphasized the beauty of structure and fine materials, and set the building back from the avenue, creating an urban oasis with the building’s plaza. Through her choice, Lambert established her role as a leading architectural patron and singlehandedly changed the face of American urban architecture. Building Seagram is a comprehensive personal and scholarly history of a major building and its architectural, cultural, and urban legacies. Lambert makes use of previously unpublished personal archives, company correspondence, and photographs to tell an insider’s view of the debates, resolutions, and unknown dramas of the building’s construction, as well as its crucial role in the history of modern art and architectural culture.

Atelier Bow Wow: A Primer Laurent Stalder Editor
Cornelia Escher Editor
Megumi Komura Editor

From the Publisher. The Tokyo-based architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow, founded in 1992 by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima, is among the most admired architecture practices of today. Part of a whole generation of Japanese firms that seized the recession of the early 1990s as an opportunity to develop a new design practice in response to changed planning and social conditions, Atelier Bow-Wow is well known for its domestic and cultural architecture, as well as its research exploring micro-architecture. The firm's first studies focused on anonymous Tokyo buildings and highlighted the ways in which they met the requirements of residents and visitors. Additionally, founders Tsukamoto and Kaijima devised a particular type of residential building for Tokyo—a small-scale house that offers an ideal solution to the restrictions of the densely populated megacity. This publication unifies Atelier Bow-Wow's architectural and theoretical work.

Fire Island Modernist Christopher Bascom Rawlins

From the Publisher. As the 1960s became The Sixties, architect Horace Gifford executed a remarkable series of beach houses that transformed the terrain and culture of New York's Fire Island. Growing up on the beaches of Florida, Gifford forged a deep connection with coastal landscapes. Pairing this sensitivity with jazzy improvisations on modernist themes, he perfected a sustainable modernism in cedar and glass that was as attuned to natural landscapes as to our animal natures. Gifford's serene 1960s pavilions provided refuge from a hostile world, while his exuberant post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS masterpieces orchestrated bacchanals of liberation. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift once spurned Hollywood limos for the rustic charm of Fire Island's boardwalks. Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's here. Diane von Furstenburg showed off her latest wrap dresses to an audience that included Halston, Giorgio Sant' Angelo, Calvin Klein and Geoffrey Beene. Today, such a roster evokes the aloof, gated compounds of the Hamptons or Malibu. But these celebrities lived in modestly scaled homes alongside middle-class vacationers, all with equal access to Fire Island's natural beauty. Blending cultural and architectural history, Fire Island Modernist ponders a fascinating era through an overlooked architect whose life, work and colorful milieu trace the operatic arc of a lost generation, and still resonate with artistic and historical import.

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