Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 2/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
by Adrian Dannatt, Jacques Grange, Marie-Laure Jousset, Reed Krakoff, and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis
New York: Skira Rizzoli New York, $55
112 pages, 93 illustrations (60 color)
Mattia Bonetti comes from Switzerland's canton of Ticino, "which incorporates the bravura exuberance of Italy and the rigor and integrity of Swiss culture," artist-critic-journalist Adrian Dannatt tells us in this book's foreword. At 20, Bonetti moved to Paris, trying his hand at textiles and photography before turning to furniture. He and Elizabeth Garouste, his former partner, went on to design showrooms, boutiques, and a logo for Christian Lacroix; graphics for trams in Montpellier; and liturgical furnishings for the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Metz. Philip Johnson and David Whitney were among Garouste & Bonetti's early patrons; more recently, Jacques Grange specified Bonetti's furniture for the renovation of New York's Mark hotel and condominiums.
In addition to all this success in the realm of functional furniture, Bonetti remains resolutely an artist in spirit. To quote the foreword again, his designs display "ambiguity, uncertainty, paradox, and duality." They also display immaculate execution—perhaps due to that Swiss rigor and integrity. His commitment to craftsmanship comes through in this book's full-page portraits of the gilders, woodworkers, metalsmiths, and sculptors with whom he's worked. We also see some of his fanciful freehand sketches.
An accompanying exhibition runs through March 13 at New York's Paul Kasmin Gallery, which partnered in the publication of this book.
Loom: Woven Paper Furniture by JANUS et Cie
by Janice Feldman
Tielt, Belgium: Lannoo, $55
180 pages, 180 illustrations (157 color)
In 1917, Marshall Burns Lloyd patented a power loom that effectively imitated the wicker and rattan furniture that could previously be woven only by hand. This daring new type of construction, known as Lloyd Loom, featured kraft paper twisted around fine steel wire. Success was astonishing in the U.S., where Lloyd Loom was bought in 1921 by what would become the Heywood-Wakefield Furniture Company, and also in London, where Lloyd joined with William Lusty to form the Lusty Lloyd Loom company. By 1940, 1,000 designs had been made in this fashion, more than 10 million pieces in total: not only furniture for indoors and out but also baby carriages, tea carts, fire screens, sewing boxes, flower vases, and more.
The popularity of the technique was already in decline by the outbreak of the Second World War, and the German Luftwaffe's complete destruction of the Lusty Lloyd Loom factory exacerbated the situation. Now, thanks in part to the effort of this book's author, manufacturer Janice Feldman, the technique has been revived—as have many of the most appealing designs, tweaked a bit for the contemporary eye. A Californian who remembers some Lloyd Loom pieces from her grandmother's house in Los Angeles, Feldman fittingly named her company JANUS et Cie after Janus, the two-faced Roman deity who looks to both the past and the future.
This book does a magnificent job of showing the continued appeal of Lloyd Loom pieces by placing them in a variety of delightful locations, under headings such as Countryside, Seaside, Provence, Santorini, and Marrakech. Although the text is minimal—in English, French, and Spanish—the images are what really count. Several of the exemplary photographs are credited to Vincent Sheppard, the eponymous founder of a Belgian company that also adapts and reproduces Lloyd Loom designs.
What They're Reading. . .
William Smith, Design associate at the Vladimir Kagan Design Group and founder of William Smith Design
Light in August
by William Faulkner
New York: Random House, $15
"I like to ask the difficult questions," William Smith says. Which probably keeps his employer, Interior Design Hall of Fame member Vladimir Kagan, on his toes. Kagan, however, teases his deputy for being too academic—counseling a more intuitive approach to creativity. Following that sage advice, Smith turned his attention from critical texts to literary fiction, specifically William Faulkner's tale of racial conflict set in a Southern Gothic landscape. "Novels open up the childish imagination," Smith explains. Still, he couldn't quite keep his professional side at bay. "Reading Faulker turned out to be an exceptional design tool," he says. "His descriptions are so vivid, but his real brilliance is to draw you three quarters of the way into a scene, then force you to complete the picture." This allowed him think about "how people interact with space" and shaped his first independent project as William Smith Design: a collection of furniture and accessories in mahogany and concrete. —Deborah Wilk