The spring season brings a lot of things: fresh blooms, longer days and for us, a new selection of design-centric books. For our latest edit, we delve into out-of-hours discotheques, Taschen editions and flagrant filthy language while also appreciating the oeuvre of some great architects. So settle back, relax and delve into our meaty handpicked shortlist...
Helmut Jahn – Buildings 1975–2015
By Aaron Betsky. Photography by Rainer Viertlböck
Germany’s biggest architectural export might not have the name recognition accorded by the international design firmament, but Helmut Jahn and his team build big and build global. Based in the US since the 1960s, when he entered into partnership with CF Murphy, the super-practice is adept at everything from transport hubs to glassy high rises. This photographic chronicle of four decades of output enlists the help of photographer Rainer Viertlböck to make a worldwide survey of some of Jahn's most distinctive buildings. The text, by Aaron Betsky, puts these behemoths into context – it was Jahn who shaped Potsdamer Platz in post-reunification Berlin, for example.
Published by Schirmer/Mosel, €68Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Tsvetelina Ivanova
From the book: amongst the most renowned of the 'big builds' is Leatop Tower in Guangzhou, north-west Hong Kong, pictured here in 2012. Photography: Rainer Viertlböck. Courtesy Schirmer/Mosel
Throughout the book, Rainer Viertlböck assiduously documents Helmut Jahn's entire output with atmospheric flair, as seen here in his image of Jahn's Sony Centre in Berlin, from 2000. Photography: Rainer Viertlböck. Courtesy Schirmer/Mosel
Often, as with the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Jahn's designs help shape the architectural landscape of the cities they're in. Photography: Rainer Viertlböck. Courtesy Schirmer/Mosel
The Dilution of Architecture
By Yona Friedman and Manuel Orazi
At 92, the architect Yona Friedman is set to get his first ever British building, in the form of one of the Serpentine’s four ‘summer houses’, designed to complement BIG’s 2016 Summer Pavilion. Friedman has been part of the architectural dialogue for decades, but until now has been known only to the cognoscenti.
‘I was surprised to learn... that I have been living during an interesting period of architectural history without noticing it,’ Friedman writes self-depricatingly in the foreword to this new monograph, edited by Nader Seraj. Friedman is a thinker for whom the grand gesture and the megastructure were the inescapable conclusions of his in-depth studies on how people actually lived and used buildings. The architect’s seminal ‘Spatial City’ concept dates from the 1950s (and informs the design of the Serpentine structure). This book shows how he got from there to here.
Published by Park Books, €48Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Tsvetelina Ivanova
From the book: Friedman's extensions to the Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris, in 2008 revolved around his idea at the time of a 'façade-less' buidling, which would allow the museum to change its shape and appearance according to each exhibition. Courtesy Yona Friedman and Manuel Orazi
Throughout the monograph, Manuel Orazi carefully tracks Friedman's progress through varied disciplinary and geographic areas. Pictured: San Francisco freeway in the 'American Projects' section. Courtesy Yona Friedman and Marianne Homiridis
In his 'Studies on New York' series, Friedman hypothesised on the best use of city space; here, we see his idea of 'Vertical Clusters' from 1964, which allow for a horizontal or diagonal circulation above ground level. Courtesy Yona Friedman and Marianne Homiridis
Nightswimming: Discotheques from the 1960s to the present
By Giovanna Silva
‘We have been told that discotheques are like old ladies: they shouldn’t be seen without their make-up,’ Giovanna Silva writes rather bluntly in the introduction to Nightswimming. These images show spaces that are designed to be animated by people, and the difference between crowded, heaving club nights with the starkly empty neon-lit spaces could not be more obvious. An empty club is a sad space, with an atmosphere, smell and ambience totally at odds with how it is normally perceived. What began as a project at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale has now grown into a book, with Silver’s photographs capturing these two binary states, backed up with essays by promoters and club goers to reveal the evolution of the discotheque from makeshift site to megaclub.
Published by Bedford Press London, £15Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Tsvetelina Ivanova
From the book: in one half of the publication, we are offered a rarely seen insight into quiet, 'before-hours' nightclub spaces. Pictured: West Germany in Berlin. Photography: Giovanna Silva. Courtesy Giovanna Silva and Bedford Press
These previously blank spaces come alive at night, defined by hoards of partying people. Pictured: Tenax in Florence. Photography: Giovanna Silva. Courtesy Giovanna Silva and Bedford Press
The book's research is derived from an archive of publications about discotheques, found in the 'Bibliography' section. Pictured: an excerpt from Gabriele Basilico's Dancing in Emilia. Photography: Giovanna Silva. Courtesy Giovanna Silva and Bedford Press
Hate Mail: The Definitive Collection
By Mr Bingo
Modern life is rubbish and the art of insightful insulting has all but vanished. Thank heavens, then, for artist, musician, illustrator and animator Mr Bingo. Hate Mail is a kickstarted compilation of an expansive series of elegant postal insults, each lavishly tailored for a willing recipient. His very best hand-wrought postal put-downs – 150 of them – are lovingly compiled in this embossed volume. Bingo’s bile is direct and to the point; it’s not exactly Oscar Wilde but is no less pithy and amusing. The craft is all in the execution and one senses the expansive ‘Hall of Twats’ who backed this book are still eager to get a personalised kicking of their own.
Published by Mr Bingo, £20Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Tsvetelina Ivanova
From the book: personalised insult-cards like those that appear in the book can be sent to your friends (or enemies) for a small fee. Pictured: Alex Hudson. Courtesy the artist
All of Mr Bingo's animated and cartoon creations share the same pithy, direct sense of humour (we look forward – with no small horror – to Volume II). Courtesy the artist
When he isn't insulting your friends and family via post, Mr Bingo illustrates for a number of different publications, and gives talks on graphic design. Pictured: Paul & Sarah Tunnicliffe. Courtesy the artist
The World According to Mecanoo: People, Place, Purpose
By Francine Houben
Dutch mega-practice Mecanoo are now best-known for the new Birmingham Library, an elaborate jewellery box for books that brings their characteristic maximalism to the British urban environment. The firm has actually been around for over 30 years, in which time it has weathered the post-modernist threat and seen a more pragmatic and purpose-driven modernism rise up in its place. All architects would concur with the idea of 'making buildings that people want to use', but Mecanoo's portfolio places them high on the list of truly engaged firms. From campus buildings to offices, concert halls, parks, museums and colleges, their architecture builds a strong sense of place from the outset.
Published by Artifice Books, £34.95Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Tsvetelina Ivanova
From the book: completed just last year, the Hilton Hotel Schiphol in Amsterdam reveals classic Mecanoo design features, like curving lines and an impressive, full-height atrium. Courtesy Mecanoo
On Texel, the Netherlands, the Kaap Skil Maritime and Beachcombers Museum's wooden façade embodies the beachcoming and recycling tradition of the island. Photography: Christian Richters. Courtesy Mekanoo
The undulating landscape of Lleida in Spain is undercut by the slim, flat design of the La Llotja de Lleida conference centre. Photography: Christian Richters. Courtesy Mekanoo
The Complete Collectors Editions, 1991–2015
A book is a beautiful thing. Taschen knows this better than almost any other publisher and has worked hard to transform the humble monograph into an art form in its own right. Since 1991, Benedikt Taschen has worked directly with artists, designers, photographers and their muses to create limited editions that have leapfrogged straight to the top of collectors’ wishlists. Starting with a signed Georg Baselitz monograph in 1991, the Taschen twist reached its apotheosis in 1999 with Helmut Newton’s Sumo, a monumental tome (with its very own table) that set new standards in scale. Other ‘sumo size’ volumes have followed, with limited edition prints, object, slipcases and sculptures blossoming in scale and complexity (our favourite is the Marc Newson-designed edition of Norman Mailer’s Moonfire, complete with original moon rock and lunar lander-shaped stand, a snip at €75,000 but now sold out).
This is, admittedly, a catalogue about books (it's not available to buy, but one can download the tome from Taschen's website), but it's also about value and investments. Taschen might have turned publishing into an art form – always playful and often explicit – but it also knows how to turn collector's heads.
Published by Taschen, free to downloadWriter: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Tsvetelina Ivanova
From the book: Taschen's myriad unique stores are documented in the book, from Amsterdam to Miami to Milan, designed by Marc Newson (pictured)
Taschen published multiple books on David Bowie, including photographer Mick Rock's The Rise of David Bowie, 1972–1973, limited to 1,972 copies signed by Rock and the Starman himself
Included within the pages are various interviews with Taschen himself, including this June 2015 text that delves into his passion for art, comics and printed works
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