From the Design Desk: The Book as an Element of Style

In the same way that plants bring an element of freshness and life to any setting, books can have transformative powers. Stylists, decorators, and art directors often use books as key elements in their compositions. For example, thematically selected books can help anchor a boutique’s look or set the tone of a living room. Anthropologie often decorates their stores with vintage, antique books for a comforting, nostalgic, non-corporate vibe. They’ve also had beautiful displays made out of books themselves, like these captured by Apartment Therapy. When Anthropologie announced new decorator concept shops, books were prominently included in the image.

A Lucky Magazine article on what to pack for a week getaway to various locations included mostly an assortment of bikinis, suitcases and summer dresses, but also books to set the tone for each destination. The books made the layout design more visually interesting. They started to tell a story about each place, and added credibility to the other suggested items. Thoreau’s Cape Cod never looked so good next to a nautical two-piece.

Judging by the number of books in Kate Spade imagery on their website, ads and window displays, they are keen on aligning themselves with sensitive, smart individuals (who are also not afraid of a little color). In the Kate Spade book Things We Love, books are most certainly included (below).

The New York Times article Selling a Book by Its Cover is about a decorator who uses the look of book covers to decorate and build libraries rather than let the content drive the selection. But I’m not opposed to books used as props, or as shorthand metaphors for smart style fiends. In this era of iPad dinner menus and laptops in bed, I just like the idea of seeing books around, and even better if they are in trendsetting places like Kate Spade. More than ever, books are lovely to see as well as to have, to hold, and to read.

Suzanne LaGasa


1 Comment

  • lynneGB May 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Such a timely post. I purged my books this evening. We are trading in 30 lovely books for more records; it was an emotional experience. I couldn't get rid of a music journal in which I started the next great song…well, 10 measures of the next great song – but never finished. Getting rid of the journal signified that I will never be that famous Broadway composer the 15 year old me dreamed about. As I teared up, my husband gave me permission to place the unused journal back on the shelf. I did, however, get rid of Casting Director's Secrets. I have long let that dream go.


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