edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 5/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design
by Martin Eidelberg, Thomas Hine, Pat Kirkham, David A. Hanks, and C. Ford Peatross
New York: Merrell Publishers, $45
193 pages, 200 illustrations
It seems odd to devote a whole book to one chair—even to a chair by Charles and Ray Eames. Furthermore, among their designs, one might have thought the most likely subject to be the 1945 LCW, which a 1999 issue of Time magazine called the "design of the century." However, the Eameses' 1956 rosewood-veneered, leather-upholstered lounge chair and ottoman turn out to be the ones that have inspired the greatest passion.
As the catalog for a show organized by Michigan's Grand Rapids Art Museum, this book has much to tell us. It offers historian Martin Eidelberg's cogent review of modern chair design, cultural critic Thomas Hine's agreeably discursive essay on "Half a Century of Lounging," and design professor Pat Kirkham's detailed record of the chair's genesis. The curator of the Eames archive at the Library of Congress, C. Ford Peatross, contributes a felicitous and knowledgeable essay that compares the Eameses to Thomas Jefferson. And Grand Rapids Art Museum curator David A. Hanks interviews a half dozen admirers of the chair, among them textile genius Jack Lenor Larsen and Charles Eames's daughter, Lucia. His grandson Eames Demetrios describes the work of the Eames Foundation.
The chapter perhaps most in the Eames spirit is an 81-page portfolio of photographs relevant to the chair's design, manufacture, and use. If you love the chair, you'll love the book.
by James Archer Abbot
New York: Acanthus Press, $87
324 pages, 300 illustrations
Maison Jansen, founded in Paris in 1880 by Jean-Henri Jansen and headed from 1936 to 1961 by Stéphane Boudin, was among the most important decorating firms of the 20th century. From its inception till 1989, Jansen operated up to 11 design studios in London, Rome, Buenos Aires, and other major capitals. Accompanying these studios, galleries of antique furniture, tapestries, and accessories sold pieces by such notable ébénistes as Jean-Henri Riesener, George Jacob, and François Linke.
Jansen leaned heavily toward French 18th-century and early 19th-century styles—but with occasional dashes of modern mirrored glass and clear acrylic. The look was carefully calculated to appeal to Biddles, Havemeyers, Paleys, Rockefellers, and Wrightsmans in addition to commercial clients. In New York, Jansen designed the Peacock Alley lounge at the Waldorf-Astoria and the headquarters of jeweler Harry Winston. The firm also designed a country house for King Leopold III of Belgium, rooms at Buckingham Palace for Edward VII, and interiors at the White House for Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy.
This handsomely produced book joins a recent volume on Elsie de Wolfe as part of the Acanthus Press series on 20th-century decorators. Future titles will be dedicated to Billy Baldwin, Ruby Ross Wood, Syrie Maugham, John Fowler, and McMillen.
Morphosis: Volume IV
by Thom Mayne
New York: Rizzoli International Publications, $75
432 pages, 575 illustrations
As the founder of the architecture firm Morphosis and a cofounder of the Southern California Institute of Architecture as well as a winner of the Pritzker Prize, Thom Mayne has already been the subject of more than 20 monographs. This latest one, covering his work from 1998 to 2004, is introduced by no fewer than 10 essays by such noted writer-practitioners as Peter Cook, Steven Holl, and Michael Sorkin. But it's the projects themselves that really dazzle, including the 1999 Lutèce and Tsunami restaurants in Las Vegas, the 2000 Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California, the 2004 Caltrans District 7 headquarters in Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Federal Office Building, now under construction. Our admiration grows further when we realize that many of these projects were also designed to be environmentally sound. As Sorkin writes, "This is an architecture of tremendous hope, planetary in its implications."
What They're Reading...
Principal of his namesake firm
Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating
by Barbara D'Arcy
New York: Harper & Row Publishers
271 pages, 190 illustrations
Adler admits that the bold looks defining his own maverick interiors and vignettes owe a debt to a dog-eared vintage copy of this book, which celebrates the model rooms that D'Arcy designed for the famous New York department store in the 1960's and '70's. "It's amazing over-the-top decorating," he says. "If it were up to me, hotels would replace their bedside Bibles with this genius book." —Kelly Beamon
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