It’s hard to pick “best ofs” from all the enticing books published this year but following are ten that came across the DnA transom that touch on design in different and thought-provoking ways (for DnA’s gift object picks, click here):
By Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson
Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson’s tale of how an introverted Swedish boy with a troubled family turned his passion for programming — and legos — into an indie videogame sensation is both a great rags to riches story and an accessible introduction to the world of gaming design and Sweden’s role in it. Hear the authors talk about the book, here.
2. The Circle
By Dave Eggers
I’ve met people who are either bored or irritated by this book, but I’m in the camp that finds Eggers’ new novel, about a utopian tech behemoth (à la Google, complete with fancy HQ that reinforces the cultish office culture) that turns totalitarian, to be a must-read cautionary tale about this age of “sharing” our lives online.
Co-edited by John Bertram and Yuri Leving
Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? LA-based architect John Bertram and co-editor Yuri Leving commissioned designers to create new covers for Nabokov’s Lolita, as a means to explore the challenge of encapsulating, visually, the novel about an abused 12 year-old girl who has been recast in popular culture as a teenaged seductress. Fascinating and disturbing.
By Stephen Gee
Long overdue survey of the native of Bolton, England, who never gained the lasting fame of Richard Neutra or Rudolf Schindler but had a towering impact on the skyline of Los Angeles, designing many of its landmarks, including City Hall, Union Station and Bullocks Wilshire. Hear Stephen Gee talk about the book, here.
By Christopher Finch
Artist and art writer Christopher Finch has turned his hand to crime writing and this first in a series — featuring a former art fraud investigator examining the disappearance of a young woman in New York’s loft district, circa 1968 — is a crackling fusion of pulp noir and art and cultural history. Christopher talked about the book on DnA, here.
By Charles Solomon, with essays by Charles Solomon, John Lasseter, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
The stunning visuals behind Disney’s latest animated film Frozen required five years of research, which involved traveling to Norway and studying its “stave” churches and traditional folk art, and meeting with physicists at Cal Tech to learn about snow. Charles Solomon’s book walks you through how the team at Disney Animation Studios used design to enrich the film’s characters and their icy backdrop. Hear Michael Giaimo, art director, talk about Frozen’s visuals, here.
7. The Asylum
By Simon Doonan
This, the latest memoir by Barneys’ “Creative Ambassador” Simon Doonan, is a hilarious and insightful look back at some of the high and low points of his four decades in clothing, premised on the idea that there is a creative connection between fashion and madness. He talks about the book, here.
By Rowan Moore
The architecture critic for The Observer newspaper has produced a fascinating contemplation on architecture and emotion. From the crass towers of Dubai to the liveable modernism of Lina Bo Bardi, he explores the ways “in which the concerns of the living (hope, power, sex) interact with the dead stuff of buildings.”
Text by Caroline Evans, Alexander Fury and Shonagh Marshall; edited by Alistair O’Neill; photographed by Nick Knight
Beautifully photographed study of the extreme personal style of Isabella Blow, the highly influential fashion editor who launched the careers of legendary designers Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy, as well as many other designers and models, including LA gallerist Honor Frazer. The book accompanies a marvelous exhibition currently on at London’s Somerset House.
By Joe Day
Highly original and provocative book by LA-based architect Joe Day that explores the societal and architectural connections between two institutions that have expanded tenfold since the 1970s: museums and prisons. Joe Day talked about the book on this DnA.