Paul Macovsky

Editor / United States /

Paul Makovsky’s Notable Books of 2011

Just when you think interest in midcentury modern design is over, there comes along a spate of excellent design books that will make you reconsider the topic.

This year there are books offering groundbreaking new research on Edward Durell Stone, Bertrand Goldberg, and Roberto Burle Marx that have a lot of relevance for architects and designers today. And books like Jonathan Olivares’s A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, Nicholas de Monchaux’s Spacesuit, and Jean-Louis Cohen’s Architecture in Uniform are models of design history scholarship, breaking new ground in the approach to their subject matter—whether it be the lowly office chair, a spacesuit, or design during World War II. The latest book from Maharam—a company that has been able to mine a modernist sensibility but make it completely contemporary and relevant—is also a gem, and comes complete with its own embroidered cover.

1 book

Company monographs usually make for a very dull read. Not so with Maharam’s monograph. As one of the premier textile companies today, Maharam leads the way in all aspects of design production and branding, and is an ideal case study in how its risk-taking design agenda has translated into a successful business. Michael Maharam, the company’s principal, provides a personal take on many of the company’s collaborators—Paul Smith (“very hands on”), Hella Jongerius (“with her, we discovered an incredible place where craft and manufacturing intersect”), and Maira Kalman (“a true wit”), just to name a few. He shares everything from his Maharam’s house font and the ads it’s created to the minimalist exhibitions it’s mounted and the functionally cool spaces it inhabits, reflecting the company’s extraordinarily high standards, which are carefully considered down to the smallest detail. Even the book cover, complete with embroidered design by Hella Jongerius, is something special, and comes in four variations.

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