Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 7/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Thomas Hope: Regency Designer
edited by David Watkin and Philip Hewat-Jaboor
New Haven: Yale University Press, $100
520 pages, 460 illustrations (420 color)
We are familiar with the interiors and furniture of Thomas Hope chiefly through his 1807 book, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, and its exquisitely restrained plates composed of thin black outlines on white grounds, free of all shading, shadow, or color. And so, faced here with more than 400 color illustrations of the real spaces and objects, we are dazzled by their vigor and presence. The images are just as elegant as the ones in his book but, with their outlines filled in, even more impressive.
Hope was born in Amsterdam to a banking family from whom he inherited a large art collection. His grand tour, studying the art and architecture of Europe and the Near East, lasted not one year but eight, ended only by the French invasion of Holland and the consequent family flight to England. There he used his knowledge, wealth, and taste to reform Regency style. His chief model for others to emulate was his London town house, originally designed by Robert Adam but extensively remodeled by Hope himself. Among its admirers was Sir John Soane.
Accompanying an exhibition of the same name that's currently at New York's Bard Graduate Center, this important and handsome book begins with 15 well illustrated essays. Then it catalogs 125 items from the exhibition: furniture, objects, drawings, and watercolors, some collected by Hope and some created by him. The book's editors were also two of the show's three curators. David Watkin, professor of architectural history at the University of Cambridge, previously wrote a 1968 monograph on Hope as well as the introduction to a 1971 reprint of his Household Furniture. Philip Hewat-Jaboor runs a London arts consultancy under his own name.
Restroom: Contemporary Design
by Jennifer Hudson
London: Lawrence King Publishing, distributed by Chronicle Books, $45
192 pages, 250 illustrations (200 color)
"Going to the toilet," this book's introduction begins, "like sex, disease and death, is a taboo subject." Not here. After a lively introductory history—moving right along through Roman baths, Louis XIV's levee, Victorian sewers, Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, and the film Trainspotting—we see almost four dozen recent examples that prove restrooms to be as serious and interesting a design problem as any other space. They are divided here into public conveniences, institutional, cultural, or medical venues, hotels, restaurants, and bars or clubs. Locations span the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and almost every country of Europe.
Standouts include bathrooms by Ron Arad Associates, Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, and John Pawson—all for the Hotel Puerta América in Madrid. Tihany Design's Blue Heaven Radisson SAS Hotel in Frankfurt is notable for restrooms featuring immodest renderings of the opposite sex. At Ron Arad's Hotel Duomo in the Italian city of Rimini, the guest rooms are described as "bathrooms with attached beds." In New York, Jeffrey Beers International designed mosaic-walled restrooms for the Hotel Gansevoort, while Tadao Ando Architects & Associates maintained a chaste whiteness at the restaurant Morimoto, and the Rockwell Group used river rocks to evoke a Japanese fishing village at Nobu Fifty Seven. Most of the entries feature floor plans; all have sources and credits.
What They're Reading...
Senior project architect at SHoP Architects
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, $14
"People need stories in a big way," Danielle Etzler says. "The narrative is a powerful emotional element in life, art, and design. It can create a sense of timelessness." Consider one SHoP Architects commission, an apartment building in a New York neighborhood ruled by zoning regulations mandating that facades be predominantly masonry: The architects used precast concrete panels with custom brick inlays, a solution that serves as a metaphor for a theme that resonates through The Namesake. Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri's novel offers a meditation on forging a new identity in the face of clashing cultures by respecting the past while looking toward the future. —Deborah Wilk