Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 7/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
New York: Glitterati, $75
192 pages, 154 color illustrations
Show, indeed! This is quite a spectacle—not so much a biography of Ralph Pucci and his varied interests or a continuous narrative of his design investigations but a collection of vignettes combining interiors, furniture, crafts, art, fashion, and, of course, mannequins.
It all began in 1954, when Pucci's parents opened a mannequin repair shop in the basement of their house in suburban Mount Vernon, New York. The younger Pucci joined the business in 1976 and transformed it by hiring a sculptor to design the mannequins. Macy's, Gimbels, and Marshall Field's were among his first enthusiastic clients. After he and Andrée Putman collaborated in 1985 on a mannequin for Barneys New York—another hit—she asked him to represent her furniture collection in the U.S. The parade of successes hasn't stopped since, and furniture designers repped by the Ralph Pucci International showrooms in New York, Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, include Vladimir Kagan, Chris Lehrecke, Patrick Naggar, Jens Risom, Kevin Walz, and Vicente Wolf. In addition, Pucci has shown rugs by Christopher Farr, vessels by Abigail Simpson and Jonathan Kline, and photographs by Antoine Bootz.
Here it all is—in a striking book credited to creative director Ken Smart and graphic designer Sarah Morgan Karp. Brief quotations by various friends and colleagues appear every few pages. Painter and sculptor James Brown writes that, after many experiments in art and design, he and other artists "often think of Ralph Pucci and his thoughtful magic that provokes. . .unexpected encounters." That perfectly represents this impresario's remarkable enterprise.
Zaha Hadid: Complete Works
New York: Rizzoli International Publications, $50
256 pages, 530 illustrations (420 color)
In a greatly revised and expanded version of a book published in the U.K. in 1998, here is the whole story of Zaha Hadid, from the dizzying and sometimes dumbfounding conceptual drawings and paintings of her early career through her apotheosis as the first and only woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize. So prolific has Hadid become that most of her projects must be covered here in a single spread or less. "Objects, Furniture and Interiors" receive similar treatment in a final section.
The introduction by Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, is perceptive but sometimes subversively obscure: "Her architecture became reminiscent of how fields rise up over hills and caves open up beneath them, of how rivers move through undulating landscapes and peaks provide a sense of orientation." As Zaha Hadid Architects developed from a one-woman show into a busy London studio with hundreds of employees, and conceptual drawings were devoured by computerization, Betsky remarks how the "slabs, prows, and blocks" of the earliest designs developed into "spirals and tubes" and how Hadid has used the computer "to take the existing landscape and unfold it, to pan, swoop, swerve, cut, slow down and speed up. . . . As paintings disappear into computer drawings, their imagined world begins to appear."
What They're Reading. . .
Hunter Tura, Managing director of 2×4
George, Being George
edited byNelson W. Aldrich, Jr.
New York: Random House, $30
423 pages, 73 black-and-white illustrations
For Hunter Tura, the subway is not just a call to ride but also a call to read. Lately, he's been spending his 40-minute commute enthralled by this homage to ber—New Yorker George Plimpton. "I read the review in the Times and remembered how much I loved him when I was a kid," Tura says. Delving into this collection of reminiscences from Plimpton's urbane celebrity friends, however, Tura realized that his childhood take on the legendary party host was a bit facile. "I didn't know the extent of his circle and how he constructed this fascinating life," he says. "He was an urban scanner, always searching for new ideas and people." Plimpton certainly offers a model for anyone aiming to bring aesthetic and creative considerations to bear on any number of different tasks. "At our office, we talk a lot about the kind of projects that will make us happy and keep us stimulated," Tura says. That might include demystifying the elitism of the wine world by developing touch-screen menus and key cards for self-serve glass pours at Clo wine bars in New York and San Francisco. Like Plimpton, Tura is always looking for the next new thing.–Deborah Wilk