SHELF LIFE
How do you detect a true design lover? Take a look at their bookcase. How do you know if they love you? Ask to borrow a rare edition from their prized collection. If they lend it, then you’re part of their hallowed circle. Word of advice: return in intact condition. But why not expand your own library? We pick out some great titles that will stimulate your senses with their visuals, tickle your imagination with new ideas and become your beloved coffee table companions. They will also make for the best gifts.  
 
 
Dixonary
By TOM DIXON
Violette Editions, 2013
As one of Britain’s most celebrated product designers, Tom Dixon has an enviable body of work, a selection of which has finally been compiled in a volume. Over 150 of his iconic designs from three decades have been recreated and photographed, showcasing the variety and depth in his ranges. From furniture to lighting to installations to radical expressions – no ground has been left uncovered. The photographs demonstrate his uninhibited nature, spanning a wide spread of materials, techniques and aesthetics. The self-taught design guru offers insights and explanations to his craft process and his journey to the finished products; the stories and inspirations behind some of his iconic styles are often surprising. The book is formatted around the coupling of images: a reference adjoining its design derivation. A must-have for anyone with taste. 
 
                 
 
                
 
 
Emerald
By JONATHAN SELF, JOANNA HARDY, FRANCA SOZZANI & HETTIE JUDAH
Thames & Hudson, 2013
The most ambitious book about the gorgeous green gemstone is divided into three parts, each with its own share of spectacular visuals. The first section showcases famous emerald masterpieces that have been worn by style icons and celebrities across the globe – Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana and Angelina Jolie being among the glitterati. The second part lists some of the world’s most significant and historic pieces from private and royal collections; many of these designs were previously unseen. The final division narrates the tale of emerald trading, illustrating the mine to market route and exploring legends and myths that have been associated with the gem. Beautifully illustrated and resplendent with specially commissioned photographs, the hardbound volume, spanning four continents and 21 centuries, is a jewel in a design lover’s collection. 
 
                
                  
                                        
 
 
A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life
By MARY RANDOLPH CARTER
Rizzoli, 2010
As an antidote to the intimidatingly immaculate, sparkling spaces that masquerade as residences in magazines and catalogues, this book artistically celebrates the imperfections of a real home – one with kids, pets and accumulations over the years. The author reassures the reader that a picturesque clutter (not mess) is acceptable, and often beautifully wholesome. She illustrates the examples of creative stalwarts like Pablo Picasso and Vanessa Bell, who chose to be inspired in their pulsating studios of organised chaos. Several leading designers, photographers and tastemakers share intimate photographs and stories about their spaces; a strong Bohemian vibe prevails through the colours and décor elements that have been gathered from various parts of the world. The book encourages us to breathe easy, while being imaginative. Practical and liberating; yet stylistic and sophisticated. 
 
 
 
Flower
By ANDREW ZUCKERMAN
Chronicle Books LLC, 2012
A whole hardcover volume comprising entirely of photographs of flora, with an overtly simplistic name – could get a bit one dimensional, right? Not a chance. This epic collection of images unleashes the magnificent power of minimalism. The award-winning photographer’s up-close and personal study of more than 150 flower species provides a stunning visual tour, and you cannot stop turning the pages. Showcased against pure white backgrounds, each structural detail stands out clearly and strongly; the colours leap out and the images hypnotise you. Each photograph deserves to be blown up and framed, and the book is a timeless investment. Instead of portraying flowers as delicate, Zuckerman captures their graphic strength. Flower power, literally. 
 
 
 
 
 
The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti
By JOHN FENKER & RAFAEL SCHACTER
Insight Editions, 2013
Some may still view them as subversive outbursts, or as a social nuisance. But street art and graffiti have deep-rooted, historic contexts. They first appeared in Latin America in the early 20th century as painted murals; spray cans started getting popular around the 1950s. Today, they are a highly distinct form of urban artistic expression and have evolved into a complex visual language. The book geographically explores the different epicentres across the globes and studies their unique indigenous codes. It also profiles some of the most influential and significant cult figures like Inkie in Bristol, Os Gêmeos in Brazil, JR in Paris, Espo in New York and Drewfunk in Australia. The accounts, anecdotes and insights are interesting and enlightening. But the real heroes of the compilation are the riveting artworks themselves, beautifully photographed. Even a classicist will look twice. 
 
 
 
 
 

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