Ten ‘Must Have’ Books for Your Modernist Library

POSTED BY katherine mcbride COMMENTS

Whether you’re a mid-century modern enthusiast, an aficionado of modern architecture, or intrigued by all things contemporary in the world of modern design, here are a few good reads to inspire and enlighten you about some of the most noteworthy and significant modern design of the last century.  From enriching, and informative subject material to visually captivating imagery, if you fancy yourself a connoisseur of all things modern, these are the ‘must-have’ books that should be on the shelf in your modern library.

A Constructed View: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman
by Julius Shulman, Joseph Rosa, Esther McCoy

Via Rizzoli:

Architectural photographer Julius Shulman left indelible images of early California modernism in his photographs of buildings by Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Rudolph Schindler, among others. Shulman’s seductive compositions helped define the popular image of California, especially Los Angeles. Crystalline studies of lakes and boats, shots of Mexican pyramids and a traditional Norwegian house, lyrical photos of oil refineries and of Henry Moore’s sculpture, exemplify his diversity.

constructedviewSource: Amazon

by Hans M. Wingler
The MIT Press

Via MIT Press:

Bauhaus has established itself with designers and architects as a standard work and the most comprehensive collection of documents and visual material ever published on this famous school of design. Now this definitive work on Bauhaus is available again in a boxed hardcover edition.

bauhausSource: Abe Books

Mid Century Modern
by Cara Greenburg
Thames & Hudson

Via Chicago Sun-Times:

This highly praised celebration of ’50s design recalls the wonders of boomerang-shaped coffee tables, the funky curvaceousness of biomorphic furniture, the industrial sleekness of cool metals, and other design delights. “Will undoubtedly foster a new appreciation of furniture from the ’50s.


New Natural Home-Designs for Sustainable Living
by Dominique Bradbury
Thames & Hudson

Via Thames & Hudson:

How can we achieve harmony between stylish homes and nature?

For anyone thinking of designing, building, remodeling or furnishing a modern home, this book provides practical inspiration for living stylishly, sensibly and sustainability.

Successful projects from many parts of the globe are specially photographed here, providing the inspiration to build and live in a balanced, natural, sustainable way whether in the city, suburbs or country.

sustainableSource: Utne.com

Contemporary Architecture and Interiors of the 1950s
by Lesley Jackson
Phaidon Press Limited

Via Phaidon:

This book is the first to explore fully the so-called ‘contemporary’ style that dominated architecture and design from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s. It was an era of optimism and confidence, where new ideas in architecture and design flourished alongside the emergent consumer culture.

Emanating mainly from the USA, the ‘contemporary’ style was fresh and liberating, manifesting itself in the picture window and the open plan, in new forms of furniture from Scandinavia and stylish light fittings from Italy, and most tellingly in the contemporary kitchen with its fitted units and mod-con appliances. This book examines the fresh and liberated design ideas of this buoyant era with an acute eye and open mind.


Modernist Forms-A Subjective Atlas of 20th Century Architecture
by Nicolas Grospierre

Via Prestel Publishing:

Form precedes function in this stunning visual archive of nearly 200 images of modern architecture by award-winning photographer Nicolas Grospierre…Derived from his popular blog, A Subjective Atlas of Modern Architecture, and organized by architectural form, this book reveals how modernist architecture is the embodiment of political and social ideologies, especially in public institutions such as banks, churches, libraries, and government buildings. Following the series of full-page images, an index details the location, date, architect and purpose of each building. While many of the buildings in this archive often go unrecognized, their forms are prominent in the landscape of modern civilization. Grospierre’s keen eye and enthusiasm for the mundane as well as the sublime will motivate readers to look at the buildings around them in new and exciting ways.

Modern Forms vonSource: Prestel Publishing

Living in a Modern Way-California Design 1930-1965
by Wendy Kaplan
MIT Press

Via MIT Press:

The heart of California Design is the modern California home, famously characterized by open plans conducive to outdoor living. The layouts of modernist homes by Pierre Koenig, Craig Ellwood, and Raphael Soriano, for example, were intended to blur the distinction between indoors and out. Homes were furnished with products from Heath Ceramics, Van Keppel-Green, and Architectural Pottery as well as other, previously unheralded companies and designers. Many objects were designed to be multifunctional: pool and patio furniture that was equally suitable indoors, lighting that was both task and ambient, bookshelves that served as room dividers, and bathing suits that would turn into ensembles appropriate for indoor entertainment.

modernwaySource: Amazon

50 Modern Buildings that Changed the World
by Deyan Sudjic
Design Museum

Via Design Museum:

The history of modern architecture is as diverse as it is beautiful, varying wildly from region to region and era to era. Here Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, explores 50 of the most significant and striking buildings in the world, from the modernist aesthetic of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye to the eye-catching flair of Beijing’s CCTV Headquarters.

50buildingsSource: Amazon

Palm Springs Modern-Houses in the California Desert
by Adéle Cygelman

Via Rizzoli

This classic volume, now available at a lower price, showcases jet-set homes designed by the likes of Neutra, Frey, Lautner, and others. Palm Springs is famous as a mecca for the international jet set. But the city has also attracted its share of eccentrics and mavericks who have left an architectural legacy that remains unsurpassed for its originality and international influence. This book examines the impact that architects and designers have had on the desert oasis, primarily from the 1940s to the 1960s. Palm Springs Modern features examples of midcentury modernism at its most glamorous, some of them the residences of prominent figures who commissioned weekend getaways in the desert, including Frank Sinatra, Walter Annenberg, and Raymond Loewy. Adéle Cygelman’s insightful text, a foreword by architectural historian Joseph Rosa, contemporary color photography by David Glomb, and the celebrated archival black-and-white work of Julius Shulman all capture the distinctly modern allure of America’s famed desert playground.

palmspringsmodernSource: Amazon

Case Study Houses the Complete CSH Program
by Elizabeth A. T. Smith

Via Taschen:

The Case Study House program (1945-66) was an exceptional, innovative event in the history of American architecture and remains to this day unique. The program, which concentrated on the Los Angeles area and oversaw the design of 36 prototype homes, sought to make available plans for modern residences that could be easily and cheaply constructed during the postwar building boom.

The program’s chief motivating force was Arts & Architecture editor John Entenza, a champion of modernism who had all the right connections to attract some of architecture’s greatest talents, such as Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, and Eero Saarinen. Highly experimental, the program generated houses that were designed to re-define the modern home, and thus had a pronounced influence on architecture—American and international—both during the program’s existence and even to this day.

casestudySource: Taschen

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