Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 5/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
A Material Life: Adventures & Discoveries in Materials Research
Mulgrave, Australia: Images Publishing Group, distributed by Antique Collectors' Club, $65
228 pages, 200 color illustrations
Malcolm Holzman, a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame, is the author of 2001's Stonework, concentrating on a single building material. His latest book focuses on a variety of other materials: metal, wood, clay, glass, and more. Each one gets its own chapter illustrated with examples from his own considerable body of work at Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates and now Holzman Moss Architecture.
Holzman discusses field trips to steel mills, glass factories, and brick kilns as well as a century-old New Jersey farmhouse with weathered wood siding. He also mentions the recycled glass used by Bruce Goff in a 1955 house in Oklahoma, the automobile hoods installed on the walls of the American Film Institute at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and the punched aluminum panels manufactured for the sides of cattle trucks but ultimately specified for a student union at Texas Tech University in Lubbock; the Courtyard Theater in Plano; and the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts in Amarillo. We also encounter perforated metal light fixtures, the application of frit and metallic oxide to glazed and matte terra-cotta, and metal lath used for walls, ceilings, and theater prosceniums. There are closing chapters on sustainability, on the interplay of architecture and art, and on the general topic of awareness of the material world around us.
Housed in an appropriately inventive die-cut binding, this is a handsome, unusual, and inspiring book. It's hard to imagine a designer who would not benefit from reading it.
Morphosis: Buildings & Projects, 1999–2008
by Thom Mayne
New York: Rizzoli New York, $85
488 pages, 500 illustrations (190 color)
Metamorphosis, according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, means a "change of physical form, structure, or substance, especially by supernatural means." While the work of Morphosis is not quite supernatural, many of its ingenious manipulations would hardly come naturally to most architects. This book is the fifth in a series chronicling designs by the interdisciplinary Los Angeles firm, which was founded by Thom Mayne and Michael Rotondi in 1972 and is now led by Mayne, who won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2005.
Among the 16 designs shown—most of them completed, some under construction, some merely proposed—is the exhibition "Continuities of the Incomplete," which appeared at Paris's Centre Pompidou in 2005. On view were illuminated models of 24 Morphosis designs seen through a slanting floor of glass and aluminum. (A version of the exhibition travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. next year.) The book's completed designs include the San Francisco Federal Building; a courthouse in Eugene, Oregon; a recreation center for the University of Cincinnati; public housing in Madrid; and a bank headquarters in Udine, Italy. The still unbuilt Alaska State Capitol does, somewhat conventionally, have a dome, but it's surrounded by asymmetrically spiraling office wings. These are designs that could scarcely have been constructed or even imagined before the computer age. As Mayne says in "Some Scattered Thoughts Instead of a Foreword," they "occurred as we—along with the entire field—underwent the metamorphosis from the predigital to the digital age. . . . With a power that drawings, hand calculations, and physical models could never approach, technology allows the architect today to build and analyze the work in visual form with astonishing accuracy well before it is ever realized."
The volume itself is almost as appealing and almost as innovative as its content. We sometimes complain here about books without floor plans, but this one provides all we could hope for, 96 pages of meticulous construction drawings printed on vellum. For those who want to know more than the abundant, striking color photographs can relate, those vellum sheets are a godsend.
What They're Reading. . .
Kelie Mayfield, principal of Rottet Studio
"The Brand Gap: How To Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design"
Berkeley, California: New Riders Press, $22
194 pages, 60 illustrations
As a designer who works primarily in the corporate sphere, Kelie Mayfield has been combing the "business" shelves at her local bookstore, looking for a read that will help her innovate. Her research recently led her to Marty Neumeier's book on how branding's capacity to connect the rational with the emotional can give a company competitive edge. "In these times, design shouldn't be so insular. We should be taking a multidisciplinary approach, which will push us to become more dynamic," she says. Applying Neumeier's tightly written insights to her own practice, she envisions a team that includes not only interior and graphic designers but also specialists in mental and physical wellness who would contribute to an environment that both reflects and affects corporate culture. That's the sort of climate change the design community would be pleased to support.
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