The ten best design, architecture and photography books of 2017

Last-minute present ideas – but also an overview of the year’s best publications. Here is Domusweb’s choice of unmissable books from 2017.

Inside Utopia, Gestalten

With less than a week to Christmas, here is our selection of 10 books to read – or give as presents (who hasn’t had a last-minute present rush, at least once?). 2017 was a great year for books, and the monographs, catalogues, collections of inspiring interiors and travel photography in this selection make for fascinating reading, but are also great present ideas – even for the most demanding friend or relative.

There are radical, visionary and poetic interiors in “Inside Utopia” (Gestalten), a book on the twentieth century’s idealistic, at times utopian, conception of inhabiting space, as embodied by visionaries such as Gio Ponti and Bruce Goff. Like emperors of unexplored lands, the architects and designers presented in this volume created genuine masterpieces, contributing towards making interior design a progressive tool for reflecting on society.

Title:
Inside Utopia
Publisher:
Gestalten
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Price:
49,90 euro

What is good design? It’s innovative, useful, helps us understand a product, it’s beautiful, non-invasive, honest, durable, focused on the detail, environmentally friendly, and as minimal as possible. In brief, these are the ten principles set out by Dieter Rams, master of industrial design and an advocate of the “less is more” approach. In this unmissable book from Prestel, he focuses on each in turn, introducing 100 of the most significant designs that he developed for Braun and Vitsoe. 

Title:
Ten Principles for Good Design: Dieter Rams
Publisher:
Prestel Publishing
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Price:
49 euro
Ettore Sottsass, Electa
“Ettore Sottsass. There is a planet. Texts and photographs", Electa

It is a hundred years since the birth of Ettore Sottsass, and institutions and publishers around the world have been paying tribute to the master with new editions, new books and exhibitions covering his extraordinary career. Electa has brought out “There is a Planet. Texts and photographs”, a collection of the master’s photographs taken over 40 years of travel around the world – the idea for the book came from Barbara Radice, the curator of the solo show now on at the Triennale in Milano (also called “There is a Planet”). The work was an unfinished project for the German publisher Wasmuth on the theme of inhabiting built space and, more generally, on humanity’s presence on the planet. The book is a testimony to the original and radical eye Sottsass brought to bear on the world. 

Title:
Ettore Sottsass. There is a planet. Texts and photographs
Publisher:
Electa
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Price:
23,80 euro

Fans of illustration and graphic design mustn’t miss “Made in North Korea” (Phaidon), a fascinating journey into the visual culture of the totalitarian North Korean regime. From cigarettes and food packaging to postcards and airline tickets, Nicholas Bonner’s book offers a strange cross section of one of the world’s most closed, most rigid countries through objects used in everyday life. Free of censure or preconceptions, it is a fascinating book.

Title:
Made in North Korea
Publisher:
Phaidon
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Price:
34,95 euro

Raise a hand if you’ve never included making a career change among your new year’s resolutions. After “Kinfolk Table” and “Kinfolk Home”, “The Kinfolk Entrepreneur”: the latest in the best-selling Kinfolk series presents more than 40 current entrepreneurs, and offers advice, tips and inspiration for anyone dreaming of supercharging their own business, or launching a new one. The creative minds behind successful brands such as Apparatus, Byredo and Hypebeast reveal their formula for success. With its blend of practicality and ambition, the book is an invitation to think big.

Title:
The Kinfolk Entrepreneur
Publisher:
Kinfolk
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Price :
29 euro

A real treat for photography fans. This beautiful book brings together images by Harry Gruyaert, a Magnum photographer since 1982, that get to the heart of the global struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War years. As the name suggests, “East/West” comprise two volumes, the first (“West”) on the extravagant ostentation of Los Angeles and Las Vegas in 1981, the second (“East) on the austere decorum of the Russian capital shortly before the fall of the USSR. It is a journey into the past through the camera of a master of photography.

Title:
Harry Gruyaert: East/West
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Language:
English
Pages:
160
Price:
58 euro

The Wines of Gala, or the wine according to Salvador Dalì. One inspirational and unmissable book is the sensual “The Wines of Gala”, an eccentric and highly individual guide for lovers or art – and, for that matter, wine. Forget the prescriptive approach of the standard guide with its combinations and recipes – this book, the winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2018, is an exuberant manifesto in favour of taste, as well as being a multi-sensory journey into the Surrealist master’s late phase. 

Title:
Dalí. The Wines of Gala
Publisher:
Taschen
Language:
English, German, French, Spanish
Pages:
296
Price:
49,99 euro

“Admit it, we’ve all made mistakes.” So begins the preface to “Che sbaglio!” (Phaidon), a playful but also wise book on the art of making mistakes. Through the work of artists and photographers, both amateurs and professionals, the Dutch publicist, designer and curator Erik Kessels subverts the creative industry with its myth of success and glossy perfection, and invites us to reject certainty in favour of the unknown, to risk a flop on occasion to create something new and exciting. Hello failure.

Titolo:
Failed It!
Publisher:
Phaidon
Pages:
165
Price:
9 euro
Language:
English, Italian, Spanish, French

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