Buying Guides

5 unique design books

5 unique design books

5 unique design books Author: Style At Home

Buying Guides

5 unique design books

Ever look around your home and think "This is lovely, but it needs a little something to make it less cookie cutter?” We hear you -- with all the great shopping outlets out there these days, creating a reasonably stylish interior is easier done than ever. But then what?

If you’re wondering how to add personality and edge your interior design, look no further than these five outside-the-box decorating and design resources. They offer unique perspectives on style and provide some useful tips and tricks for adding artsy, alternative and outside-the-box elements to any room in your house.

outside-the-box-book4.jpg Lickshot: A Photo Scrapbook
By Ben Watts; Princeton Architectural Press, $63

Who will love this book: Contemporary photography buffs, fashionistas, pop culture vultures and coffee-table-book connoisseurs

Why: Ben Watts is an internationally renowned photog whose images have appeared in Vanity Fair, Elle, Rolling Stone and other trendsetting magazines. His edgy, street-inflected style of photography is presented here in scrapbook form, complete with hand-scrawled notes, coloured tape and Polaroid test shots. Images are black-and-white and full-colour, encompassing subject matter ranging from urban landscapes to the beach, surfers to supermodels, Brooklyn biker gangs to break dancers -- oh, and stars like Heath Ledger, Coldplay and Lance Armstrong, too. The perfect book for cutting-edge coffee tables.

Sample wisdom:
Watts’s photo aesthetic could just as easily apply to interior design: "I try to go for a combination punch, whether it be with color or with the attitude of a person… I want pictures with visual impact, pictures that are in your face."


Creative Space: Urban Homes of Artists And Innovators
By Francesca Gavin & Laurence King, $56

Who will love this book: Decoristas that are into loft, studio or industrial-inspired design, especially those who take an intellectual approach to design (ie. you love reading about it as much as browsing pretty pictures!)

Why: Rather than offering how-to formulas, this wonderfully illustrated coffee table book offers voyeuristic peeks into the homes of leading culturati (creative directors, artists, architects, filmmakers, writers, etc) in hotspots like Barcelona, Berlin, London, New York, Paris and Tokyo.
Homes range from micro lofts and live/work studios to sprawling three-storey properties. The common thread? Each home is gorgeous, highly personal, and decidedly un-cookie cutter. Engaging Q & A’s with each homeowner will have you reading as well as ooohing and ahhing.

Sample Wisdom:
"You are king of your taste!" exclaims Spanish architect and art collector Juan Redon, whose flat in a 19th Century Barcelona building is crammed full of modern furniture à la Philippe Starck and Jasper Morrison, high-end artwork by iconic artists like Richard Prince and shelf upon shelf of Batman, Superman and Disney toys.


Micro: Very Small Buildings
By Ruth Slavid, Laurence King, $39

Who will love this book: Design lovers looking for proof that smaller needn’t mean less utilitarian or stylish.

Why: This book offers a collection of inspiring small buildings (public and private) from around the world. For decorators who like to reach their own design conclusions, Micro offers some intriguing, decidedly outside-the-box inspiration. From a restoration that turned a 100-year-old pig barn into an art studio, to new-builds using repurposed materials, eco-friendly elements figure prominently throughout.

Sample wisdom: “I’ve never lost my house in a flood, but I would imagine that 'cute' would beat ‘cutting edge’ every time," says architectural historian and cultural critic Witold Rybczynski in a discussion of the cheerful coastal-style Katrina Cottages that Marianne Cusato designed in the wake of 2005’s destructive Hurricane Katrina. The cottages are also being considered in the state of California’s own disaster-preparedness planning.


Guerrilla Art
Edited by Sebastian Peiter; Laurence King, $27

Who will love this book: Art lovers and style aficionados who appreciate the intersection points between fashion, interior design and street style.

Why: This book and DVD documentary package offers an illustrated tour of the last decade of street art in London, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo and Tokyo. In an era where graffiti art can sell for tens of thousands of dollars via mainstream auctioneers like Sotheby’s, leading "guerrilla artists" like London’s stencil artist Banksy (whose work is collected by the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are finding new admirers for their often-provocative work.

With great interviews and a sumptuous collection of colour photos, this book combines contemporary art theory alongside some nifty DIY inspiration for outside-the-box decorators: Check out the chapter on the Parisian street artist known as Space Invader for some super-stylish mosaic-tile art installations you can try at home.

Sample wisdom: French fashion designer Agnés B, an avid visual-arts patron and collector, likens today’s leading graffiti artists to geniuses like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who created their own street-art in the mean streets of 1980’s-circa New York City. "I think there are a lot of very talented people to be discovered in the streets today," she writes.


Greetings from the Ocean’s Sweaty Face: 100 McSweeney’s Postcards
By McSweeney’s (and the artists and authors); Chronicle Books, $26

Who will love this collection: Fans of the publishing house founded by writer Dave Eggers (which includes the small but influential literary magazine Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), as well as those who like small-format art.

Why: Who doesn’t have 100 reasons to buy a pack of 100 postcards by the likes of Winnipeg-based art star Marcel Dzama or Guelph, Ont.-based underground cartoonist Seth?

Sure, the postcards can be mailed to your friends and loved ones… but they’re especially perfect for framing, posting on the wall in a “group exhibit,” or sticking on the fridge.

Sample wisdom: Postcards = super-affordable art!



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Buying Guides

5 unique design books