13 October 2010

GLUT

.
do you wonder who the starlets are that seem interchangeable today ? I know I have moved on (over 50) and though still I possess a nimble noodle- one Lively, one Partridge? It makes one Scarlet positively staid. I bemoan, whine, about the lack of inspiring interior design and decoration in the slick magazines that appear in the box. I flip through. Another month passes. No GLUT here. To the contrary, just the hand full of  magazines hanging in there. Moves of editors, this one to that. One happy thought is the newly placed Margaret Russell at the helm of Architectural Digest. Mitchell Owens follows her as AD's Special Projects Editor along with other notables, making for a AD revival.



 photograph by Cecil Beaton


But-
This fall sees yet another GLUT of designer portfolio books.
I thought That was last year,
But No-
it is This year.
Designers publishing another book, or new books from new designers. I think the saturation is due to the indiscriminate idea that THAT Designer is the one. Until THAT Designer is the one.
A book A day. Really.
I have declared strict guidelines to my own purchasing this fall-

No books about or by  living Designers  will I buy.


Consider.
It will narrow the field for you, not marginally but substantially. Relieve your list of repetitive rooms from one house, one project, co authored books by Novelists, indulgent ME look books, full page quips about CHIC.
No I didn't buy them, but I have perused a number of them very recently.

If your stacks are beginning to look like the corner bookstore, missing only the shiny shrink wrappings-

Consider.
What is going to forward creating the room You desire?
Find the answers by beginning with a careful edit of your stacks-that will go a long way & by applying the same good sense to your rooms you will make headway.

Here is what is on my list- with a few exceptions, I have followed MY RULES-to a point.*












* Bunny Williams is alive and quite well, I just saw photographs of her on NYSD.




This covers Books for the rest of 2010. 2011 will be another thing all together. This does not include some that I have already purchased- that said, I made some disappointing choices and some quite good ones, but No-not this Fall. There are some other wonderful things coming this fall in other categories I'll name later.

What have I omitted?
Lots-I know- & isn't that the point?
If I have dismissed a favorite of yours-do tell. 


 .

19 comments:

  1. A decade ago, back when I had a smaller apartment & fewer bookshelves, Nancy Reagan's Just-say-NO! was like a mantra, and I had to pass up new books that I really wanted because there was literally nowhere to put them. I looked forward to the day when I'd have a bigger place, bigger shelves & and a bigger book budget. Well, the last one didn't really happen, but the other two things finally came to pass, and, really, when you consider how the lowered costs of printing books overseas has made affordable handsome books that would have cost two or three times as much a decade ago, well, it's almost like I have a bigger budget.

    Unfortunately, in the same way that digital cameras have lowered the aesthetic value--not the technical quality--of most people's photographs, inexpensive printing has cheapened the content--not the production values--of the very books that it makes possible. It's the old law of dimishing return. Sure, big, handsomely produced books are reasonably priced these days, but once you're past their glossy covers, half of them have nothing inside. Totally forgettable, empty calories, and half an hour after you eat them, you're hungry again. Even some otherwise OK books have been unwisely padded out with terrible filler photos, just to fill up cheap space. At least I assume that's the only reason they're in there. I'm thinking of a volume--by a titled author with a resonant, historic name--that features a double-page spread of a cheesy, generic-looking family room that looks like a J. C. Penney knockoff of Ralph Lauren's horsey style, done by someone who only knows the look via the pages of the Home Decorators catalog. When that awful photo popped up on the screen at one of the author's lectures, there were muffled gasps & titters among the Chanel-clad ladies around me. They thought it was included as a joke, a demonstration of how-not-to-do-it. Yet there it was, and there it is, on pages 60 & 61. OMG. And like I said, that book was by a well-known name.

    It's taken what--fifty years?--for Syrie Maugham to get a deluxe monograph on her work, yet the tables in the stores are piled high with stacks of glossy tomes by designers I've never heard of, and having thumbed through a few of them, I see why. Those books remind me of a line from Alice in Wonderland--"Everyone has won and all must have prizes!" and a line in one of of President Bush's speeches about "the soft tyranny of low expectations." In the old days, none of these puff-piece "books" by nothing-special decorators & designers would have ever made it beyond the first-cut editor's desk, but, these days, off-shore production gives them a green light, and they're everywhere. So, just to make sure that there are no awkward moments in the months to come, I've already put out the word to my friends & family: for the first time ever, No gifts of books this year.

    Anyway, you've already got the three main Must-Buy Books on my list for the year. And I think I agree about your no-living-designers rule, although I like Thomas O'Brien's book, and I'd toss that rule out the window in a nanosecond if Mario Buatta would do his civic duty. I can't think of any other living names who warrant a full-scale book--yet. Meanwhile, while I wait for Mario to get his act together, I'll be going to a lecture that Pauline Metcalf is doing on Syrie for the Royal Oak Society at a private club here in Chicago in November, and the money I save on mediocre books that I won't be buying will go to pay for the very elegant dinner that follows. So although I won't be saving any money by not buying books, I will at least have an excellent meal, and best of all, after I get home, I won't be cluttering up the place with books that don't deserve the shelf space.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A decade ago, back when I had a smaller apartment & fewer bookshelves, Nancy Reagan's Just-say-NO! was like a mantra, and I had to pass up new books that I really wanted because there was literally nowhere to put them. I looked forward to the day when I'd have a bigger place, bigger shelves & and a bigger book budget. Well, the last one didn't really happen, but the other two things finally came to pass, and, really, when you consider how the lowered costs of printing books overseas has made affordable handsome books that would have cost two or three times as much a decade ago, well, it's almost like I have a bigger budget.

    Unfortunately, in the same way that digital cameras have lowered the aesthetic value--not the technical quality--of most people's photographs, inexpensive printing has cheapened the content--not the production values--of the very books that it makes possible. It's the old law of dimishing return. Sure, big, handsomely produced books are reasonably priced these days, but once you're past their glossy covers, half of them have nothing inside. Totally forgettable, empty calories, and half an hour after you eat them, you're hungry again. Even some otherwise OK books have been unwisely padded out with terrible filler photos, just to fill up cheap space. At least I assume that's the only reason they're in there. I'm thinking of a volume--by a titled author with a resonant, historic name--that features a double-page spread of a cheesy, generic-looking family room that looks like a J. C. Penney knockoff of Ralph Lauren's horsey style, done by someone who only knows the look via the pages of the Home Decorators catalog. When that awful photo popped up on the screen at one of the author's lectures, there were muffled gasps & titters among the Chanel-clad ladies around me. They thought it was included as a joke, a demonstration of how-not-to-do-it. Yet there it was, and there it is, on pages 60 & 61. OMG. And like I said, that book was by a well-known name.

    It's taken what--fifty years?--for Syrie Maugham to get a deluxe monograph on her work, yet the tables in the stores are piled high with stacks of glossy tomes by designers I've never heard of, and having thumbed through a few of them, I see why. Those books remind me of a line from Alice in Wonderland--"Everyone has won and all must have prizes!" and a line in one of of President Bush's speeches about "the soft tyranny of low expectations." In the old days, none of these puff-piece "books" by nothing-special decorators & designers would have ever made it beyond the first-cut editor's desk, but, these days, off-shore production gives them a green light, and they're everywhere. So, just to make sure that there are no awkward moments in the months to come, I've already put out the word to my friends & family: for the first time ever, No gifts of books this year.

    Anyway, you've already got the three main Must-Buy Books on my list for the year. And I think I agree about your no-living-designers rule, although I like Thomas O'Brien's book, and I'd toss that rule out the window in a nanosecond if Mario Buatta would do his civic duty. I can't think of any other living names who warrant a full-scale book--yet. Meanwhile, while I wait for Mario to get his act together, I'll be going to a lecture that Pauline Metcalf is doing on Syrie for the Royal Oak Society at a private club here in Chicago in November, and the money I save on mediocre books that I won't be buying will go to pay for the very elegant dinner that follows. So although I won't be saving any money by not buying books, I will at least have an excellent meal, and best of all, after I get home, I won't be cluttering up the place with books that don't deserve the shelf space.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree. I dont buy anything about anyone who is still alive. I wait until they are dead! Just put the Syrie Maughman book on my to buy list!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Incredibly well said, and I agree with the words of Magnaverde as well.
    Yes, the Castaing, Baldwin, and Maughn books are on my list, but the gluttony of shiny books of interiors that leave me wanting, I cannot abide.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So true.

    And I love your sense of humor (Bunny on NYSD)!

    So many designers. So many photographers, too. So many books.

    I had the good fortune to find myself in Litchfield County, CT this past summer on the day of Garden Tours. You might enjoy these: http://www.brucebarone.com/BunnyWilliamsCountryHome.htm

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh la, I do love you! With rare exception, I can't bear books about a "designer" who's career is defined by time on reality television! Why is there no Derek Patmore monograph? I could go on and on...

    Well, your wish list mirrors mine.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Michele from BostonOctober 14, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    I'm in total agreement. Especially since most of the work in the books has been featured in magazines of recent vintage as well as on the design blogs I read. I also agree that often books are "filled" with unmemorable, pretty mediocre work badly printed. I have made a few exceptions for the living though for Axel Vervoordt, early Michael Smith (when a client's budget was no object), Albert Hadley and Bunny Williams. And the reason I know they're good? I can go back to them time and again and never be bored.

    When I heard of Margaret Russell's move to AD I immediately put in a subscription on impulse. So far I've had to deal with Aug.through Nov. issues that have been truly painful. The first 3 issues of which I received must have been lying around in remainder piles since I received one every week. Even, sadly to say, a disappointing trademark Michael Smith mega-house for Jim Belushi which appeared completely lifeless in this Nov.'s. I was even disappointed by the unevenness we have to suffer through with new editors. One month a terrific House Beautiful, the next bland and uninspiring. I still miss House & Garden and Southern Accents, too.

    The best thing to invest in, in any field it seems, are the Old Masters! They, at least, are worthy of shelf space.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I AM IN FIRM AGREEMENT ABOUT MARIO BUATTA- YES, IT SHOULD BE HIS DUTY AT THIS POINT, HIS WOULD BE EXCELLENT. I THINK THAT COMES WITH AGE-THIS I FEEL MORE AND MORE, THERE SHOULD BE A BODY OF WORK TO SHOW, RATHER THAN THE ONE OR SO HOUSES REPEATED OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER. WELL, AGAIN I AM IN STELLAR COMPANY HERE.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here's a scene to ponder: went to a garage sale and lo, the woman was a hoarder of decorator books - there were literally hundreds in boxes - most brand new and most never opened - they were going for $5 and at that price I scooped up a few: Colefax & Fowler - that kind of thing - books that had cost as much as $60 new -sad - I got up after I read your piece and said to myself, what do I go back to over and over again: one is The Frenchwoman's Bedroom by Mary Sargent-Ladd - it is history, personality and design all rolled into one - not many like that, however.
    Suzanne on St. Simons

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've been chewing on this for a couple of days as I am the very lucky recipient of review copies - I'm not going to be coy - so I get to see a lot of books I wouldn't necessarily buy. I have thought, now and again, that some of these books seem premature. Still, both Draper and Hicks were publishing all through their careers and folks are still drawn to those books both vintage and re-issued. And, Draper was doing the dreaded how-to. In addition, I wonder if we always have perspective on what will last. Every time I see a Ruby Ross Wood room I wish there were more images of her work. Often, the designers we know, the ones who have the most prominent place in the history of the art, were published.

    And, less philosophically, I have a book sitting on my beside table right now, not particularly my aesthetic, but offering great inspiration on hanging shelves and brackets. It gets the wheels turning.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The book that surprised me this year was Lars Bolander's and the reason: the prose (which he did not write). There was history, geography giving the whys and hows of his view of decoration. So looking forward to EEE's MC. And, yes, Mr. Buatta, if you are listening, we are waiting for you to be the new Prince of Books.

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  12. So many poignant comments, with my own bookshelves overflowing and stacked on the floor!! Discernment is my mantra now and so good to see that I am not alone.

    I have a Luxurious New Giveaway on my site....Come and enter!!

    Xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for becoming my 99th follower! Complaining about books is hard for me to take in, within the context of books. Shopping High Point is like the Phoebe from friend's mantra: "Oh my eyes, my eyes." Supersized yuk is all around me, but lo, I run into BeeLine home and see the most sublime upholstery, or see the most dancing twirling, contained within space chandelier. I did just spring for the David Easton book. Don't forget our revered Tony Duquette! I live in Winston. Send me an e-mail if you are close by, I'd love to meet you.
    Best,
    Liz

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  14. suzanne, the frenchwoman's bedroom! I think that is wonderful too. I go back to old House and Garden books too- the Horst books both. I have been disappointed to the degree that several went back immediately.

    home- that is a good recommendation LB. I would go for MB's B. anytime.

    Karena-discernment is a good mantra.

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  15. Mrs. B. I am going to shock when I say -I am not so very fond of DD-even though I have a couple of her books. She was true of the period. Billy Baldwin transcended his-that is what makes him so superior and yes thank goodness he published. It seems EVERY designer is doing it-this has got to lead to less than a stellar showing in books. When I look at them I see good very acceptable rooms ,very pretty-and lord knows sometimes it is hard to squeeze that out given the client- but what was once seem as good work is now taken as book worthy-that it advertises the designer to potential client-a calling card if you will or a way to parlay their name into a TV spot (ie Nate Burkus) or Branding( ie every fabric house, lamp) must be the impetuous. To say and I paraphrase- a foyer looks like a fabulous hotel lobby is No good thing as I see it, who wants that, unless it is for "show" there are many "quotes" from that particular newbiebook that made me shutter.

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  16. Dovecote, yes I too survived 2 days of HP market and actually in Winston, we should connect next time I am here. I drop in to Beeline Home- now there is a designer anyone would wish to emulate. The pieces she has done thus far are lovely and all the seating comfortable and stylish. & yes Tony D was in a league all his own. I would think the David Easton is quite good. -Gaye

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  17. Ok, all this and that said, I am not swearing off the LIVING forever JUST this current new Fall crop! I would love to see a new Nicky Haslam book or I think there is a Charlotte Moss coming in the winter, or spring. Mario Buatta is completely OVERDUE for publishing. Albert Hadley- I'm first in line. There are some very good compilations that help clear the shelves of magazines-Town and Country has one that is pretty good, though I was expecting other rooms to be included-there has to be another one coming . A Thomas Jayne book- I think there might be one in the works or on its way. I hope so. pgt

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  18. Totally agree. Also, I am in the not-so-much DD fan club so at least we will have someone to share the bottle with.

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  19. Dear Gaye, I've just put all of these on my wish list. I love Billy Baldwin and Syrie Maugham xx

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