10 Books for the Design Lover’s Library (or Coffee Table)

As a book lover since childhood, I love reading everything from biographies to the appearance of cereal boxes. So, I totally took the opportunity to share with you ten of my current favorites in the fields of art, design, and architecture. Almost all of these books are in my own collection—on the bookshelf or on the coffee table—so they are legitimate recommendations I would pick for any of my family or friends. (Probably the smallest hint to start your holiday shopping, if you haven’t already…)

A book cover that reads 1,000 classic designs

If you are a hardcore design fan, this book belongs in your library. You could spend hours researching every iconic product listed, from 1663 to the present. This book is a revised edition that has been updated to include 100 new items from the past fifteen years with an emphasis on diversity. You’ll find products from designers you’ve never heard of to the likes of Charles, Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and Isamu Noguchi. It really is a treasure trove.

Book cover with a picture of a woman holding two maraca in the shape of a skull and reading Marina Abramović

Several years ago, Marina Abramović was the first female performer that made an impact on me. Her groundbreaking work has tested the limits of endurance, pain, and uncomfortable social situations that most of us cannot imagine willingly participating in. This book by Ossian Ward brings Marina’s art together in one place where it can be explored and appreciated for its intensity and diversity.

Great Women Painters book cover

The women finally got the praise they deserved and are still fighting for more. great paintersWritten by Alison M. Gingeras, it highlights 300 international painters whose art spans over five centuries. In its pages, you’ll read about rising stars, newly-appreciated talent (ahem, Hilma af Klint), and unforgettable artists of all time. Their work will leave you inspired, ignited and ready to launch your own creative path.

Blue book cover with the word HAY in red

Author Kelsey Keith took on the task of compiling all of HAY’s Scandinavian designs into a monograph. Started in 2002, by Rolf and Mate Hay, the brand has become synonymous with design that is accessible to everyone. Among the book covers, you’ll read about the duo’s use of color, their rapid development in the design industry, their collaboration and partnership with Herman Miller, and much more. Its release also coincides with HAY’s 20th anniversary being celebrated this year.

Colorful picture book cover for reading inside

We love seeing spaces that interior designers design for others, but what about their own? Here, 60 top designers pull the proverbial fragile curtain off their homes. You might think that each space reveals the designer’s most favorite aesthetic, but then you might be surprised again. From apartments to cottages, there is a little bit of everything from a number of different countries to enjoy this ambitious read.

Dark blue book cover with PROPAGATE and carmine line graphics

Since houseplants have become such a big part of our lives, I had to include this book by Paul Anderton and Robin Daly (AKA Two Dirty Boys). Using visually appealing outline graphics, they’ll guide you on how to make cuttings and propagate your favorite plants. Step-by-step conversation guides for 20 different projects are included, and you’ll also find some other useful information scattered throughout the well-designed pages.

A white book cover with big, blue, and green bubbles and the word iro

What first struck me about Rossella Menegazzo’s book is that it’s Japanese-style binding, one of my favorites. Its pages have continued to impress with texture and content. This beautiful book explores 200 colors (iro), with each traditional Japanese color represented by one or more noteworthy elements. Everything from modern furniture to utensils and kimonos are included in the carefully curated collection that you must see in person to get the most appreciation.

Glossy orange book cover with illustrated face

You’ve probably seen Jean-Julien’s work before, whether or not you knew it was his work at the time. The prolific artist creates interesting and hilarious paintings and illustrations that are just notes from his daily life. Go behind the scenes with previously unseen work, peruse sketchbooks, and get a chance to tour Jullien’s creative practice that spans personal, collaborative and public works.

Colorful illustrated book cover that reads NICHETTO STUDIO

Authors Max Fraser and Francesca Picchi have combined the work of multidisciplinary designer Luca Nichetto for a chronological presentation from 2000 to the present. The company is known for incorporating Scandinavian and Italian design influences, several key projects and a commitment to high-quality craftsmanship. Watch as Nichetto’s eponymous studio grows and develops with 400 photos, sketches, collaborations, interviews, and more.

book cover with floral arrangement reading PUNK INEBANA

Released by floral designer Louesa Roebuck on November 8, Punk Ikebana creates arrangements and compositions that combine cultural traditions and the elegance of this Japanese art form without sticking too tightly to convention. They make them using leaves found in your yard or in the local woods. If you’re looking for some direction on how to make your arrangements more abstract, this book is a great start.

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Kelly Bell is Senior Editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her discoveries with others. When she’s not distracted by great art and design, she can find she’s making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find it on designcrush on social media.

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