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
Farès El-Dahdah
Lauro Cavalcanti
Francis Rambert

Burle Marx was one of the great modernist landscape architects of the last century, though perhaps better is the term he preferred, “painter-botanist.” He designed his landscapes like paintings—abstract with biomorphic forms, a confident use of bright colors, and a delightful musical rhythm that moves you through space. The book has great photos of his well-known projects like Copacabana Beach promenade in Rio de Janeiro but also of his lesser-known residential ones (which are even better) like the Garden of the Cavanellas Residence. Contemporary landscape designers like Gilles Clément and Patrick Blanc weigh in on his work, and his 1983 essay on landscape architecture in the city will have you thinking about designing your own tropical oasis in no time.

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