Todd Oldham

Architect; Graphic Designer; Fashion Designer; Interior Designer; Product/Industrial Designer; Lighting Designer / United States / Todd Oldham Studio

Todd Oldham’s Book List

It was a pleasure to make a list of my favorite books—the only challenge was stopping. I live in rooms filled with stalagmite towers of books and this is just a start.

The list consist of top-drawer efforts that are all treasures to me. I have visited them often, and my pleasure and fascination is never diminished. I hope you enjoy them, too.

In addition, some not-exactly-books have served as impeccable design resources for me: the Sears, J. C. Penney, and Montgomery Ward catalogues of 1940–85. These middle-of-the-road retailers featured hybrid designs based on authentic examples, and the end resulting catalogues are anthropological bibles. It is perhaps ill advised to seek inspiration in homogenized efforts, but I feel like Margaret Mead every time I look inside one and I always come out a little puzzled—concerned for the world, and inspired.

Finally, I should mention visionary Joe Holtzman’s award-winning magazine Nest, which ran from 1997 to 2004—one of the most singular celebrations of design ever. Free from pretention and with photography by fine artists and writings from literary luminaries, this art piece between covers shape-shifted with each issue. Each one was golden.

I hope Designers & Books asks me for another list someday.

6 books
Gerald Ames
Rose Wyler
Illustrated by Charley Harper

This was my first introduction to biology when I was six. I lived in this book and memorized the drawings by the artist Charley Harper. His simplified illustrations created a lifelong love of biology for me; I can still remember what a sugar molecule looks like today, thanks to Charley.

Dorothy Parker

No one has the ability to string words together like Dorothy Parker. The stories remain fresh after years of reading them and I often marvel how contemporary they are. I have clearly distressed my paperback version so this was the first e-book I bought.

Philip McMillan Browse

The best book on plant propagation around. I have had great success with the techniques with its easy-to-follow beautiful, clean drawings.

A warning: this might be colossally boring to the uninterested and includes steps like: 
Step 1, cut here
Step 2, bury in soil ½ inch
Step 3, wait 2 years

Tina Fey

I am not in the minority with praise for this best-selling book. It is so beautifully written that I read it twice. Tina Fey’s stories are optimistic and rich, with perfectly observed detail. Her complete lack of meanness and spare, excellent language make this a real pleasure.

Amy Sedaris

I love this book. I even got to work on it taking the portraits of Amy. but I would still say I loved it even if I didn’t get to work on it. This book is one of the most extravagant efforts on record with thousands of pieces of custom art and photography. Amy’s vision is perfectly realized on every page, with a singular language that is so rich you can open this book on any page and land on a jewel. Amy assembled a world-class team of artists to work on the book, including Hillary Moore, Justin Theroux, Billy Erb, Paul Dinello, Laurie Faggioni, and more; even the hand-lettering is by fine artist Ellen Berkinblit. The recipes are delicious and dead serious, but the unifying thread is Amy’s pitch-perfect writing. Whether offering up the recipe for SPA-GHETTI (really delicious!) or giving tips on how to wash your vagina (complete with drawings). this book is a must-read for us all. Her new book, Simple Times, is just as good

Note: Amy spoke at the Book Expo author breakfast when the book launched, along with fellow authors Barack Obama and John Updike, where she read the “How to Wash Your Vagina” chapter at 8:00 in the morning.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Lee Bouvier Radziwill

I received this book as a gift from a dear friend and it remains one of the best presents ever. The Bouvier sisters took a ship to Europe one summer and kept detailed drawings and diary entries of all they encountered. Well-bred and well-mannered Jacqueline and Lee had a unique version of travel involving “letters of introduction” and bygone luxury but remained unspoiled and grateful. Their doodles and sketches that appear throughout the book show the surprising talent the sisters had at drawing. This book is hard to find but worth the effort.

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