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By December 12, 2020No Comments


By Babs Rodriguez

While this year’s fresh perspective on how we live in our spaces has us paring down kitchen clutter and cleaning out our closets, we continue to buy books, especially the ones that open windows onto inspiration and beauty that lies within striking distance of being over-the-top. That’s our idea of perfectly balanced.

It’s a lot, and we approve

At a time when less is celebrated as more by famed simplicity muse Marie Kondo, we ask ourselves: What if everything we own sparks joy? Now, a duo of interior-designers-to-the-stars offer a beautifully illustrated answer. Sharing insights into their signature style of restrained decadence, designers Louisa Pierce and Emily Ward, with text by Catherine Pierce, celebrate an entertaining blend of classical and fanciful — with no apologies for bursts of outrageousness. A Tale of Interiors ($60, Rizzoli New York) appeals to our nosy side with insider looks at the homes of movie stars and rock legends. And our affection for design that honors family treasures and collections attached to memories speaks to our dislike for sterile interiors filled with soulless objets. Whimsical, layered, chic — the thoughtful melding of personal things, all well displayed against intriguing backdrops of color (including unexpected ones the designers call “ugly”) and texture, make these houses one-off homes. Learning something of the designers’ process — Ward is based in Los Angeles and Pierce in Nashville — in bright, scrapbooklike page layouts is a bonus. The pair are natural storytellers, equally at ease working with humble finds and museum-quality art. Their lessons in organized abundance are meaningful, too. rizzolibookstore.com

Kitchen star: The designers worked with actor Josh Brolin’s things in place, simply softening the edges.
Photo by Leslee Mitchell for Architectural Digest © Condé Nast

George Carwardine’s 1935 Anglepoise desk lamp has movie star good looks.
Photo courtesy of Anglepoise

Simply perfect things

For anyone who needs proof that good design is the next best thing to forever love, look no further than the well-illustrated pages of The Design Book ($19.95, Phaidon). Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair is here, originally designed in 1957 and still manufactured today. And our favorite Chambord French Press has made the cut, too. The brainchild of designer Carsten Jørgensen — created during his tenure as director of design at Bodum — has been elevating coffee breaks since 1974. Newly revised and updated, this book offers props to perfection of the pedestrian, too: The spring-action wooden clothespin is necessary and neat, although its designer, sadly, remains unknown. We like the things so balanced in form and function that they feel destined for immortal status. The vintage classic Anglepoise 1227 desk lamp introduced in 1935 by George Carwardine is still being manufactured today in innumerable variations all capitalizing on the same poised-to-spring profile that inspired an animated Pixar character (and the film company’s logo). From the paperclip to extraordinary home furnishings, the details and history of designs that have bettered and shaped the human experience over the last 500 years — including 30 new ones from the last 15 years — make for addictive reading whether you’re a Corbusier fan or a trivia buff. amazon.com