edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 1/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Glenn Murcutt: Buildings + Projects 1962-2003
by Françoise Fromonot
New York: Thames & Hudson, $65
326 pages, 406 illustrations (197 color)
Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, winner of the 2002 Pritzker Prize, maintains a very small office (himself) and consequently produces a small body of work, with every building an object of international interest. This new book from Parisian architect and teacher Françoise Fromonot, also the author of Glenn Murcutt: Works and Projects, brings us beautifully up to date with 33 designs illustrated by photographs, presentation-type plans, and details of working drawings. In addition, she includes an eminently readable introduction, preface, and essays, a brief biography, and an extensive bibliography.
Charlotte Perriand: A Life of Creation
by Charlotte Perriand
New York: Monacelli Press, $40
400 pages, 80 black-and-white illustrations
Charlotte Perriand published her autobiography in France in 1998—and died the following year. Finally, a translation has appeared in English.
We know Perriand best, of course, as Le Corbusier's associate and collaborator in furniture design, and she gives an engaging account of her years in his office. Applying for a job at age 24, she was told by the master, "We don't embroider cushions here." Then, after seeing an exhibition of her furniture and interiors, he hired her. She resigned 10 years later, while helping design a pavilion for the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques, although she continued to work with him sporadically over the years.
The Corbu episode represents only a quarter of Perriand's story, however. She tells us something about her family and education and much about her later friends and colleagues Fernand Léger, Jean Prouvé, René Herbst, Walter Gropius, and Corbu's cousin Pierre Jeanneret. She also describes her experiences in Russia, South America, Indochina, India, and especially Japan.
Whatever her location, her life was a constant exploration of the high-tech tempered by the simple and even the rustic in an effort "to create a gimmick-free modernism." She tells her story directly, without polemic or hyperbole but occasionally with a flash of vivid description, such as this one of Corbu: "He dreamed up everything, like Icarus. In the past, flying madmen landed in trees; today they soar into the cosmos."
What They're Reading...
A partner in Iu + Bibliowicz Architects and member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame
by Gay Talese
New York: Walker Publishing Company, $12
176 pages, 15 illustrations
Equipped with a new introduction and afterword, this reprint tells the story of New York's Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Carolyn Iu, whose firm is building the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Manhattan, finds many similarities between the two projects, however different their nature. "Talking to the carpenters, the excavation and foundation crew, and the ironworkers adds meaning to the process," she says. "It's the flesh and blood of what we do."