edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 2/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Adventurous Wine Architecture
by Michael Webb
Victoria, Australia: Images Publishing Group, distributed by Antique Collectors' Club, $60
204 pages, 210 color illustrations, 36 plans and line drawings
Wineries once existed simply to make wine. Except for the occasional historic château, their buildings were functional, designed for crushing, blending, fermenting, and aging. Now that most wineries also house spaces for tasting, dining, selling gifts, and even holding concerts and lectures, knowledgeable design writer Michael Webb has gathered 54 examples into a very attractive book.
The star projects come from 10 different countries, and the architects in question are among the world's most famous: Santiago Calatrava, Frank Gehry, Rafael Moneo, Glenn Murcutt, and the team of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, among others. But not everything is in a name. The three most imaginative buildings are by lesser-known talents. The first is the Australian firm Suters Architects, which designed the Tempus Two Cellar Door winery—it wraps around an amphitheater with cable-braced pylons and canopies. The second is Aurelio Galfetti, whose Cantina Ghidossi in Switzerland is a rationalist pavilion of concrete, steel, and glass, romantically draped in wisteria. Third is Nielsen : Schuh Architects; at Stryker Sonoma in California, the firm expressed barn imagery in rubble stone, concrete louvers, and a standing-seam copper roof. There's a place to raise a glass!
Designing Modern America: Broadway to Main Street
by Christopher Innes
New Haven: Yale University Press, $40
336 pages, 136 illustrations
Here is a double biography of designers Joseph Urban and Norman Bel Geddes—and an attempt to revitalize their respectable but less-than-red-hot reputations. It's fitting to review these two careers together. Both men worked in a streamlined style that owed something to art deco, and both had backgrounds in set design for Hollywood's studios and New York's Metropolitan Opera. (Urban also designed sets for the Ziegfeld Follies.) Where the similarities end, the stories still complement each other. Urban established a career in architecture, designing the Ziegfeld Theater—now sadly demolished—as well as the New School for Social Research and the Hearst building. Meanwhile, Bel Geddes enjoyed great popularity as a designer of shop windows, cocktail shakers, radios, typewriters, and cars, not to mention the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair.
While this refresher course in two colorful careers is very welcome, author Christopher Innes overstates his case in claiming that the designers "shaped the daily environment of the 1930's" and "did more than anyone else to create what has been called the golden age of American culture in the 1940's and 1950's, when everything came together in a coherent and identifiable American style." Unmentioned, for example, are other major designers with art deco leanings, such as Donald Deskey. Also missing are Gilbert Rohde, George Nelson, Russel Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, and Marcel Breuer. Meanwhile, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier each get one passing reference. Innes's argument might have been more convincing had it not been made in a virtual vacuum of context. These omissions are a pity, as there is much useful information here—and much to admire.
Don't Come Back Until You Find It: Tales From an Antiques Dealer
by Bruce Newman
New York: Beaufort Books, $25
232 pages, 28 illustrations
Bruce Newman recently retired as head of the Newel Art Galleries, one of New York's premier antiques sources—with an inventory of 20,000 objects. Part of his autobiography is inspiring: the growth of Newel from humble beginnings in a storefront opened by Newman's father in 1939. (The book title quotes a piece of his advice.) Part of the story is personal: animosity for his two sisters and disdain for "those 800-pound gorillas, the auction houses." And much is anecdotal, dropping the names of Jacqueline Kennedy, Barbra Streisand, Mark Hampton, and Mario Buatta and telling how Newman discovered art moderne panels from the French ocean liner the Normandie. Along the way, we also learn the etiquette of the antiques trade, the niceties of shrewd bargaining, and how to tell the real from the fake.
What They're Reading...
Principal of his namesake architecture firm
Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin
by Lawrence Weschler
Berkeley, California: University of California Press, $18
215 pages, 29 illustrations
This biography was a gift from a mentor, and Kikoski treasures it for exploring Irwin's "intense approach to making things." One chapter describes the two-year process of perfecting an installation at California's Pasadena Art Museum. "Under- lying that precision was an ability to take pleasure in perceiving—where the nail will go, what color the inside of a glove box should be," Kikoski explains. "Details make the difference."—Kelly Beamon