Design

A few quick highlights from our recent and forthcoming art + design books

Time Magazine

Time Magazine’s design issue contains a curious and entertaining selection of entries (many of us noted that Time’s online interface is pretty bewildering, ironically, and you’d be better served by picking up the print issue). I liked that they included a section on artisanal food, which is surprising but totally sane as a new design category. Also, can newly announced Pritzker-winner Jean Nouvel get away from suggestive shapes soon? His new fragrance bottle design for Yves Saint Laurent leads me to this question.

But two items of note on the 100 list: first is that our splendiferous book Plants and Their Application to Ornament, published in conjunction with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, is getting a lot of great attention, and made the list. This facsimile edition of a book by Swiss Art Nouveau progenitor Eugène Grasset is kind of like a primer of nineteenth-century ornament, and it’s a reminder that “decorative” need not be a cuss word in designspeak. This book doesn’t just look pretty on your table (though it will do that too); this is a book that I think helps design literacy. You can “read” the design process by example. Starting with an illustration of a plant, handsomely rendered and naturalistic, each entry abstracts a plant into a motif, and then shows a use for the design–on wallpaper, lampshades, and the like. It’s back-to-basics and wonderful on every level. May we say Time made a good choice on this one.

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Also of note is the call-out for the new California Academy of Sciences building, designed by Renzo Piano and due to open in late September. This is meant to be the largest “green” building of its kind, not just in its expected platinum-LEED status, but literally too, with a huge, 2.5 acre living roof, planted with grass and flowers. This fall, Chronicle is proud to publish The Living Academy, a monograph for this majestic building. Look for it, and make sure to visit the Academy itself when in San Francisco.

Last, for Bay Area residents (or visitors this weekend) don’t miss the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts Spring Open House this Sunday the 20th. Prominent photographer David Maisel is one of the artists in residence, and we’re proud to publish his haunting Library of Dust this fall. Much more on that project soon.

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