reviewed by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 5/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Case Study Houses
By Elizabeth A.T. Smith
New York: Taschen, $150
440 pages, 1,000 illustrations
During and immediately after the Second World War, there was a great ferment of speculation about the postwar house, its interiors, and its labor-saving equipment. Among the most farsighted speculators was John Entenza, the editor of the avant-garde monthly Arts & Architecture. In 1945, Entenza launched an ambitious program of actually constructing Case Study Houses, which he then showed in his magazine. The program continued until 1966, and 36 houses were built, most in the Los Angeles area (although there was one up the coast in San Rafael and a group of three down in La Jolla). Entenza chose architects among the leading talents of the day, including Charles and Ray Eames, Craig Ellwood, Richard Neutra, William Wurster, Ralph Rapson, Pierre Koenig, and Eero Saarinen. Many houses employed newly available steel for their structure; many were unprecedentedly open, both in plan and in relation to the outdoors. Some became icons of modern design.
This massive new book, weighing in at almost 15 pounds, is not the first on the subject. In 1962, Esther McCoy's Case Study Houses 1945-1962 documented all those built at the time, and in 1989 the present author, Elizabeth Smith, curated a Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition on the houses and edited the accompanying catalog, Blueprints for Modern Living. This new book, however, is the most thorough source of information. The large pages and horizontal format allow for extensive floor plans and sketches as well as generous photographs, many by Julius Shulman, who also contributes the epilogue.
Ipek: The Crescent & the Rose, Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets
By Nurhan Atasoy, Walter B. Denny, Louise W. Mackie, and Hülya Tezcan, edited by Julian Raby and Alison Effeny
London: Azimuth Editions, distributed in the U.S. by Distributed Art Publishers, $150
360 pages, 540 illustrations (157 color)
As both a visual treat and a scholarly achievement, this book is outstanding. It catalogs the lavish textiles of the Ottoman Empire, dates many of them, and classifies them by technical and stylistic developments. Treasures from Istanbul's Topkapi Palace are included, as are examples from other museums and ecclesiastical treasuries throughout parts of Russia and Central Europe that came under the Ottomans' rule between the 13th century and 1918. Essays consider textiles and ceremonies at the sultan's court in addition to silk manufacture, trade, and pattern design. Technical analyses of selected textiles, notes to the text and the plates, a chronology, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index round out the material.
U.S. Design: 1975-2000
By R. Craig Miller with Thomas Hine, Rosemarie Haag Bletter, David G. De Long, and Philip Meggs
New York: Prestel, $65
256 pages, 280 color illustrations
This book catalogs a lively recent exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, where editor R. Craig Miller is curator of the excellent architecture, design, and graphics department. (The show travels in 2003 to the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, the American Craft Museum in New York, and the Memphis Brooks Museum in Tennessee.) While no single section is specifically devoted to interiors, their design and components are prominent in two well written and illustrated sections: architecture, by David G. De Long, and decorative and industrial design, by Miller himself.
On the whole, Miller presents an informed survey of the last quarter century's experiments and innovations. A few selections, such as the six pages of objects by Michael Graves, could have represented the previous quarter century—Miller tactfully calls Graves's work "consistent." Most, however, are fresh and vigorous. The book delights us with Karim Rashid, Frogdesign, Lisa Krohn and Tucker Viemeister, Mark Pollack, and Suzanne Tick. De Long recalls the accomplishments of Ronald Krueck and Keith Olsen, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Steven Holl, George Ranalli, Bart Prince, Stanley Saitowitz, and Jim Jennings. Frank Gehry and the team of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown rightly dominate both sections. The total picture is encouraging, leaving us pleased with the 25 years just passed and optimistic about the ones to come.