Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Richard Meier: Houses and Apartments
by Richard Meier, Paul Goldberger, Joseph Giovannini, and Joseph Rykwert
New York: Rizzoli International Publications, $85
272 pages, 225 color illustrations
Richard Meier's work is the subject of a whole library of books, including a 1997 one on his houses. Most of these titles, also published by Rizzoli International Publications, manifest a confluence of several remarkable talents: the literally and intellectually dazzling buildings of Richard Meier & Partners Architects, of course; the superb photography of Ezra Stoller and his Esto studio's Scott Frances; and the lucid and elegant graphic design of Massimo Vignelli.
This book joins the canon. Of the 28 residential projects showcased, 14 were included in the earlier book of houses—although two of those existed only as drawings and models at the time. Meier's first structures in Manhattan are, surprisingly, his Perry Street apartment blocks, finished in 2002. Other localities range from the New York suburbs and the Hamptons to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Texas, California, and, beyond the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, and China.
Joseph Giovannini gives a good general characterization of this work: "Richard Meier's houses may be complex in their asymmetries, even hypnotically complex, but they are deeply ordered: never are they gestural, or eccentric in the root sense of the word—out of center. Calm emanates from his houses because the designs [have] an underlying grid and repeating module that regulate every architectural element." Meier has certainly been very fortunate (or very picky) in his critics. In addition to the three familiar names credited with the present book, writers about Meier have included Richard Rogers, John Hejduk, Kenneth Frampton, and Frank Stella.
São Paulo and the Architecture of Arthur Casas
by João Carrascosa
São Paulo, Brazil: Editora Décor, $50
208 pages, 186 illustrations (185 color)
Arthur Casas has been a member of this magazine's Hall of Fame since 2004. As our readers know from many examples, this is an architect who can combine minimalist rigor with Brazilian flair—and make it all look easy. Despite the geographic limit implied by the title, his book presents buildings and interiors in São Paulo and beyond. There are two Rio de Janeiro apartments that evince an urbane linearity, a Tokyo clothing store defined by a grid of shelving, and a Parisian cosmetics shop with rustic wood accents in addition to 16 pages of Casas furniture and tableware. The highlight is São Paulo's serene Hotel Emiliano, completed in 2001. As described by Casas himself, it pays homage to the "absence of excess. . .few colors, few elements, classic modern furniture, and loyal guests." The text is in Portuguese and English. The fine photography is by Brazil's ubiquitous Tuca Reinés.
The Design of Future Things
by Donald A. Norman
New York: Basic Books, $28
231 pages, 18 illustrations
Following up on The Design of Everyday Things, his influential 1988 examination of how good design comes to pass, psychologist and design consultant Donald Norman takes on the development of so-called smart design, offering a critique of technologies intended to ease daily tasks and chores. From Norman's perspective, the suggestions offered by electronic assistants—automobile navigation systems, computerized grammar checks—can all too often transform into imperial dictate, because the tools cannot account for human override. By deconstructing the psychological relationship between us and our machines, Norman uncovers the key to keeping technology in its proper place: providing constructive information for designers and engineers seeking to enhance the conveniences of contemporary life. —Deborah Wilk
What They're Reading…
Principal at Architecture TM
The Architecture of Bruce Goff
by Jeffrey Cook
New York: Harper & Row
135 pages, 127 illustrations (11 color)
From his San Francisco office, Tim Murphy spends a considerable amount of time contemplating the counterculture. "Northern California modernism countered the Victorians," he begins. "It's beautiful in terms of formalism, but it's a bad way to design public space that requires mood and range." Murphy says he finds great inspiration in "things to react against." Which is why he's been reading about mid-century maverick Bruce Goff.
Flouting the tradition in which an architect studies and emulates a master, Goff challenged the icons of modernism. "He was interested in Corbu and Mies but thought their aesthetics were retarded," Murphy continues. "He saw the next phase of modernism as more personal and decorative." His work, primarily residential, demonstrates his ability to develop mood and collage spatial effects within a strong framework, showing an exceptional affinity for natural forms. The American architectural community may have scoffed at Goff—not so the Japanese. On a trip in the 1960's, he was embraced by the avant-garde Metabolists, who imagined cities of the future populated by flexible structures that grow organically. —Deborah Wilk
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