July book news: leaf through this month’s top tomes
July book news: leaf through this month’s top tomes
By Alessandra Fanari, Françoise Guichon and Marco Romanelli
The French designer Pierre Charpin defines his joyously colourful, engagingly simple objects as 'receptors': 'primarily as forms, and only on a second level as functional.' This gives them a quality not out of place in two dimensions, where, he says, 'others can decide what meaning to give [them]'. It's an enjoyable pursuit, following his ideas through the stage of naïve sketching, to graphic paintings as exuberant as Matisse cut-outs and ultimately the glossy finished objects - though he prefers to call them 'things', to escape the narrowness of a definition. A lighthearted discourse between the designer and critic Marco Romanelli, journeying through the experiments of the 1980s to the triumphs of the 1990s, is the heart of the text, worth blowing past the impenetrable treatise by Alessandra Fanari to access. The curator Françoise Guichon places Charpin in a historical context, a natural successor to French masters like Auguste Rodin and Nicolas Froment.
From the book: Installation view of 'Pierre Charpin au Grand-Hornu, vingt années de travail', Grand Hornu Images, 2011. Courtesy of Pierre Charpin Studio, Paris. Photography: Pierre Antoine
'Triplo', by Pierre Charpin, 2003, made of blown glass and elastic. Courtesy of Pierre Charpin Studio, Paris. Photography: Pierre Antoine
A spread from the book shows 'Daimonji Hills', 2012 (left) and 'Crescendo' table (right), 2012, both by Pierre Charpin
By Robert McCarter
Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was a jack of many trades - architecture, product design, furniture, textiles and glassware - and arguably a master of all. Architect and professor Robert McMarter charts the Finn's impressive oeuvre in a new tome, called simply Aalto, revealing how he transformed ordinary and mundane materials into marvelously poetic spaces. Photographs and floor plans take us inside more than 200 key Aalto projects, including Villa Mairea, Essen Opera House and Finlandia Hall.
From the book: Villa Mairea, Noormarkku, Finland (1937-39), south-facing entrance façade
Finlandia Hall (1962-71) and Congress Hall (1970-5), rear of concert hall with marble-clad balconies
Church of the Three Crosses, Vuoksenniska, Finland (1956-59), northeastern façade of the sanctuary building with its three curved volumes
Summer House, Muuratsalo, Finland (1953), view into courtyard
Printing Things: Visions and Essentials for 3D Printing
Edited by Claire Warnier, Dries Verbruggen, Sven Ehmann and Robert Klanten
3D printing seems constantly on the cusp of a revolution. Now that the technology is firmly entrenched, the creative floodgates have opened wide and the design press is awash with physical objects that would otherwise have remained on the screen or drawing board. But prototyping, sketching and one-offs remain the primary output of the growing army of 3D printers churning away in studios around the globe, awaiting some killer app that will make this technology truly mainstream. Printing Things is both how-to guide and best-of collection of the contemporary state of the art. The emphasis is still skewed toward artistic projects, but practical projects are growing in number, be they medical, architectural or educational.
From the book: 'L’Artisan Électronique', by Belgian designers Unfold and Tim Knapen, 2010. The project is set up as a miniature production centre, featuring a digital potter’s wheel connected to a 3D ceramic printer
'Gradient Bangles', by Berlin-based artist Maiko Gubler, 2013, hybridises digital art and wearable jewellery
Tschumi: Parc de la Villette
By Bernard Tschumi, with texts by Jacques Derrida and Anthony Vidler
With hindsight, the studied chaos of deconstructivism really didn't stand a chance. The movement's proponents created their visions out of collage and densely layered drawings, soaking up the influence of earlier 20th-century avant gardes in homage to architecture's possibilities for an all-consuming experience. The pioneering project of the genre was Bernard Tschumi's Parc de la Villette, a sprawling science and exhibition centre in Paris, built on the site of the city's former abattoirs. Tschumi's masterplan eventually accommodated many of the major players of 1980s architecture, but it's the bright red 'follies' that still linger in the imagination. Each represented a fragmented diagram of the larger whole, forming a grid across the site. Artifice's new monograph traces Tschumi's competition-winning design from its earliest sketches through its completion.
From the book: a view of one of architect Bernard Tschumi's memorable, bright red 'follies', part of his Parc de la Villette project in Paris. Photography: Sophie Chivet
A view over the park in the 1990s
This Is Not a Book about Gavin Turk
Edited by Rachel Newsome
Of course it is, for artist Gavin Turk has done everything in his power to subvert the relationship between artist, artwork, dealer and public. Of all the artists loosely corralled into the YBA movement two decades ago, Turk was always on the far fringes, never quite willing to submit to the art world tropes that consumed his peers. This Is Not a Book is sketchy and imprecise, less a monograph than a series of invited musings (featuring many of those starry peers), scattered with Turk's own thoughts and artworks. The latter are reproduced in Jim Hollingworth's sketches rather than glossy, full-colour photographs.
From the book: an illustration by Jim Hollingworth to accompany the 'Labyrinth' chapter by Damien Hirst
Another Hollingworth drawing of Gavin Turk, from the chapter 'Fonts' by Deborah Curtis
Architectural Guide: Riga and Venice
By Jānis Krastiņš, Clemens F Kusch and Anabel Gelhaar
Two cities with very different architectural heritages get the full-on guide treatment from the publisher DOM. The Venice Architectural Guide goes for the city's lesser-known contemporary structures, focusing on works completed after 1950. That means a lot of Scarpa, new restorations and a hefty focus on the pavilions and halls that play host to Venice's famous biennales. Riga offers up the whole spectrum of architectural history, from classicism through art nouveau and functionalism. Each contains maps, plans and copious illustrations, making them a must-have for any eager archi-tourist.
From the book: the IUAV Laboratory Building, Venice, by Francesco Venezia, 1998
The Little Grassi Theatre, Venice, by Tadao Ando, 2013
Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Riga, 2001-2005
The Television Centre, Riga, 1979-1987
Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made
By Tom Wilkinson
Tom Wilkinson's new book is social history told through architectural invention, ancient and modern. We get ancient Rome and Babylon, the dawn of the modern era (Detroit's Highland Park factory), the birth of the welfare state (London's Finsbury Health Centre) and the conjunction of sex, feminism and sudden death in Eileen Gray's E1027 Villa in the South of France. Full of fascinating anecdotes and asides, Wilkinson's tome puts the human interest into architecture and shows when it comes up trumps - or fails badly.
A spread from the book featuring an image of the Belgian station on the Congo River, 1889
Everyman's Castle: The Story of Our Cottages, Country Houses, Terraces, Flats, Semis and Bungalows
By Philippa Lewis
Perhaps the British obsession with houses and housing arises from our rather eccentric modes of domestic architecture. The bungalow, villa, terrace and semi have all come to characterise a particularly British approach to private housing, setting up a dizzying array of social and cultural hierarchies that persist to this day. At a time when well designed housing is in high demand and short supply, it's instructive to look to the past and see how the buildings that still underpin the nation's housing stock were shaped.
From the book: The salubrious suburb of Victoria Park, Manchester, photographed in 1912. The toll gates kept commercial traffic away
Mansion flats, St James’s, London, designed by Frank Verity, 1905. Verity wrote that blocks were most effective if designed on classical lines, but that the windows could be enriched with suitable balconies