Growing up in Los Angeles, I was a bookworm because I was a lonely little girl and I could get lost in the fantasy world of books. My parents encouraged me to read and I read everything I could find. As an adult, I am still a voracious reader, and a speed reader to begin with. There is nothing like the tactile sensation of the weight of a book in your hand and the action of turning the pages. For me, it is a loving tribute to the written words and beautiful images found within the pages of a book.
That is why I have a large collection of books at home; most of them design books, of course. Not only are they valuable sources of knowledge and inspiration that I turn to repeatedly, but they provide an ease of use that is simply not available on the internet or in an e-reader. Unlike a novel, which is read from the first page to the last, design books are made to be flipped through. And you just can’t flip through a handheld device like you can with a book.
So with that, here are my six favorite design books:
1. Judith Miller, “Furniture: World Styles from Classic to Contemporary.” Without a doubt, the best book on identifying styles. Full of details, details, details. Information about materials, why something looks the way it does, juicy treats, the people and events that influence furniture design. This is the book I wish I had written! It’s my bible
2. Christopher Payne (general editor), “Sotheby’s Concise Furniture Encyclopedia”. Christopher Payne is British and has the crisp and charming writing that the British are known for. This is one of my reference books for quick and concise information on a particular style.
3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Period Rooms in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Delicious images of the Met’s fabulous period rooms, from the Jacobin to Frank Lloyd Wright.
4. Frederick Litchfield, “Illustrated History of Furniture: From the Beginning to the Present”. I have the 1893 edition I printed from Project Gutenberg, and it is fabulous! Incredibly detailed illustrations of period furniture and rooms. There are no photos, only detailed illustrations. Lots of juicy details on various designers and historical figures.
5. Mario Praz, “An illustrated history of interior decoration: from Pompeii to Art Nouveau”. Primarily illustrated through period paintings, but a great resource for entire room schematics seen through the eyes of artists.
6. Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester, “Great American Houses and Their Architectural Styles.” Beautiful photos and floor plans of some of the best examples of American architectural styles.