Tuesday, December 17, 2013

BOOK NOTES: Mad for Mod holiday picks

Here's a list of Mad for Mod's recommended holiday gift titles for design lovers, released by some of the most notable art book publishers in the world. Some are fun and quirky, some are instructive; all will continue to give inspiration and pleasure  for years to come. (One of my favorite things about my job is being able to leaf through these gorgeous books, and call it "work".)

• Three from Taschen publishers

100 Illustrators

Mind-bending designs by the biggest players in the highly competitive field of illustration ...

This volume includes a self-portrait by each illustrator, examples of his/her work, and a profile about each by NY Times arts writer Steven Heller.

Zaha Hadid: Complete Works 1979-2013

This is the most comprehensive book ever written about the phenomenal, often controversial design work of Baghdad-born architect Zaha Hadid. The photos are stunning, and the high quality and lustrous sheen of the book's paper is notable. (At 612 pages and a hefty weight, this volume is meant for coffee table display, not carrying around!)

Menu Design in America, 1850 -1985

Menu Design is a deluxe volume, filled with more than 750 illustrations of a unique graphic art form that we generally take for granted. Menus, and the art that decorates them, have become defining mood-setters as well as keepsakes and marketing tools. This book also presents a fun and fascinating history of the phenomenon of dining out in America.

• from ACC publishers

  Contemporary Designers' Own Gardens 

This book takes readers on magical 12-country journey to secret gardens created by 
twenty of today's most innovative garden designers. Vertical gardens, kitchen gardens, play gardens, oasis gardens ... they're all here. What a treat to look at on a cold, wintry day!

• from Princeton Architectural Press
Southern Makers: Food, Design, Craft, and Other Scenes from the Tactile Life
If you're a crafts aficionado, you'll be fascinated by this collection of lively interviews with an eclectic assortment of inspired ceramicists, textile artists, toy makers, brewers and even a chocolate maker. The book could also serve well as a tour guide for the arts hubs of the American South: Asheville NC, Charleston SC, Athens GA and Nashville TN.   

The Designer says; The Architect says; The Film-maker says: 
Quotes, Quips and Words of Wisdom

Princeton Architectural Press has released 3 volumes in its entertaining "Words of Wisdom" series, and each is a feast of witty observations and thought-provoking ideas. This very portable collection (great for airplane reading!) would appeal to anyone curious about the concepts and personalities that have shaped the art of visual communication over the past century.


• from Ten Speed Press

  Modern Art Desserts: Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Confections, and
             Frozen Treats, Based on Iconic Works of Art

The cover and subtitle of this jazzy book pretty much say it all! Even if you're not a skillful baker (and -- let's face it -- you have to be, to make many of these recipes) you can still enjoy the photos and descriptions of this collection of "edible masterpieces". They're all based on paintings by great artists such as Mondrian, Matisse, and the happy cakemeister himself -- Wayne Thiebaud.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Pop! Design, Culture, Fashion 1956-1976  
Antique Collectors Club Publishers, hard cover, 272 pages, 230 color illustrations, $59.95

This cheerful volume, released in conjunction with an eponymous exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London,  celebrates three distinct decades of design in Britain and America,  exploring the sweeping gestalt of the pop culture phenomenon. A narrative of postwar rock ‘n’ roll exuberance, “swinging sixties” rebellion, and seventies disillusionment unfolds through images spanning graphics (concert posters,  book and record jackets),  space-age furniture,  psychedelic textiles,  and zany fashion accessories in vinyl and paper. Pop! examines the fascinating and sometimes circular relationship between design and music,  noting that many musical luminaries of the sixties had studied graphics at British art schools; these included John Lennon, Ray Davies,  Eric Clapton and Donovan, an aficionado of mod fashion designer Mary Quant. Pop art is thus revealed to blur not only the boundaries of commerce, culture, and style, but also those of the aural and visual modes of expression.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

BOOK NOTE: Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design

Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design, Laurence King Publishing, hard cover, 440 pages, 1484 illustrations, $75.

Multicolored spirals pirouette dizzyingly throughout the opening credits of Hitchcock’s Vertigo … A spare black papercut of a dismembered, supine body conjures up the disturbing premise of Otto Preminger’s film Anatomy of a Murder … These and innumerable other iconic title sequences and movie posters were the creations of genius designer Saul Bass, the artist who turned previously quotidian film elements into a much admired mid-century art form. This first-ever monograph about his deceptively simple, bold, humor-tinged work is co-written by his daughter Jennifer and art historian Pat Kirkham, with an affecting foreword by Martin Scorcese. While highlighting Bass’ movie-related designs, the abundantly illustrated volume delves into the wide range of his gifts, which included filmmaking itself (he choreographed the creepy shower scene in Psycho), as well as designing corporate logos (Quaker Oats, United Airlines), jazzy matchbook sets, sophisticated record jackets, concert posters and artwork for political/humanitarian causes. Bass often referred to his compelling metaphorical designs as “thinking made visible.”


Thursday, December 5, 2013

ODD BITS: Pantone's color of the Year is ...

Radiant Orchid!! Check any page of my website and you'll see why I'm excited about this.
Pantone's press release (yes, their Color of the Year gets its own press release) says:
“An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, 
Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. 
It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”
Yep, that's me.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

OBJECTS OF DESIRE: The "Tasteful Dissarray" dresser

The "Tasteful Dissarray" moniker for this dresser
 (sold by Dot and Bo) describes my life quite well.
I'd love to have this piece of furniture -- quirky and functional at the same time.