Stanley Abercrombie

Critic; Curator; Writer; Editor; Lecturer / Architecture; Interior Design / United States / Books Editor, Interior Design magazine

Books Every Interior Designer Should Read

As for so many other things, I blame my parents: they planted the seed of my hunger for books—especially art and design books—with a Christmas present. When I was eight or nine, growing up in a small town in Georgia, a big box under the tree held nothing but a small card welcoming me as a member of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In those days MoMA assumed that members who lived more than a couple of hundred miles from Manhattan would seldom get to the museum, so in compensation those remote members were sent a clothbound catalogue of each exhibition. I read each one over and over, thinking all of them wonderful. . . . View the complete text
5 books
Nikolaus Pevsner

First published in 1936 as Pioneers of the Modern Movement and given its new title in a Museum of Modern Art edition of 1949, this book teaches the importance to 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.

Gyorgy Kepes

Part of the six-volume Vision + Value series edited by Kepes, Professor of Visual Design at MIT, 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.”

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.

Bernard Rudofsky

An entertaining and sometimes withering critique of the mid-century American house, with keen observations on our habits of dining, sleeping, and bathing.

John Ruskin

Written by Ruskin 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.

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