Archives for category: Books

In a post a few weeks ago entitled Tableau Books, I mentioned compiling a post on Art Deco titles. Here are a few that I have selected, complete with images from the books themselves.

Art Deco: 1910-1939 (V&A) (ed. Charlotte Benton et al)
Art Deco was inspired by many things, including Mayan and Aztec temples, ancient Egypt, Japanese lacquerwork, and Native American and Navajo culture. It was also influenced by more recent styles such as Dutch and German Expressionism.

This is a large and comprehensive title of over 400 pages, published by the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is both text and image heavy, and features chapters on Egyptomania; European Glass; British Art Deco Ceramics; Art Deco Jewellery; Art Deco and Hollywood Film; and Art Deco in South Africa, to name but a few. I would recommend this to anyone with a love of all things Deco, in particular those who are also interested in social history. You may need to pick this up second hand as I believe it is no longer in print.

Art Deco Architecture by Patricia Bayer
One of two books I own on Deco by Patricia Bayer. The first focuses on architecture, and covers everything from offices, factories, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, shops and even churches. It features Deco architecture from all over the globe, from the streamlined modernism of the Bauhaus (1926) school in Dessau to the highly-embellished opulence of the Radiator Building (1924) in New York City.

Art Deco architecture first appeared in France, closely followed by the United States, where Manhattan became home to the two most famous Deco structures in the world: the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, built in 1930 and 1931 respectively. The author describes Art Deco architecture as ‘an architecture of ornament, geometry, energy, retrospection, optimism, colour, texture, light and at times symbolism.’

Art Deco Interiors by Patricia Bayer
For some people, their interest in Art Deco does not extend beyond architecture. I am not one of these people. Be it furniture, lightning, bathtubs or fireplaces, Deco interior design holds as strong an interest as the exteriors.

Art Deco design was like nothing seen before, which must have been very exciting. It radiates glamour and elegance: opulent design, a unique and vibrant colour palette, decorative motifs, shiny metals. Some of the interiors look futuristic even now, almost 100 years later.

This book is full of photographs old and new, with a decent amount of background information. Featuring interiors from homes, offices, public transport, hotel lobbies and film sets, it provides a detailed history of the Art Deco interior style. It offers both a look in to the past and inspiration for your own home.

Asmara: The Frozen City by Stefan Boness
I suppose when we think of cities associated with Art Deco, London, New York and Miami come to mind, closely followed by Chicago and Detroit. Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, isn’t exactly the first.

Asmara: The Frozen City is a small hardback book featuring photographs of exterior and interior architecture. Many of the buildings in the city are distinctively Deco but with an Italian flair. They were built at huge expense between 1934 and 1940 by Italian architects, led by Mussolini. The city has remained untouched since then, hence the book’s title.

Not all of the area is Deco, but it is certainly Modernist with Futurist influences (this was after all an Italian operation). Whilst not yet a UNESCO site, Asmara has been under a preservation order since 2001.

Miami Beach Deco by Steven Brooke
Another small hardback book featuring photographs of the iconic ice-white stuccoed buildings of Miami Beach, adorned with pastel embellishments. Notable architects were Henry Hohauser, L. Murray Dixon, Anton Skislewicz and Albert Anis.

The Deco buildings in Miami had fallen in to disrepair by the 1970s and it took a pioneering lady named Barbara Capitman to save them. Her campaign led to the beginning of the Miami Beach Architectural Historical District, which seeks to preserve the area and provide information to the public. Miami is also home to the oldest Art Deco Society in the world, founded in 1976.


As I have recently moved more than half way across the country, I don’t get many visitors. However, I still like to have coffee table books in my living room, which I flick through quite often. I would never advocate buying these types of books solely for decoration as they can be quite pricey. Buy books that interest you, then think about the aesthetics. I have included a photograph of my (very cheap Ikea) coffee table, stacked with books and a few other things. You may notice some items on the table from my post, Charity Shop Finds. I have detailed some of my books below in case you are interested.

Tips: It’s best to stack the books from largest to smallest so you can see what’s there, avoid having too many out at once, and you might want to vary your selection.

Coney Island: Lost and Found by Charles Denson
I purchased this book from a shop on the seafront at Coney Island when I visited in April. As well as reminding me of a great trip, it is full of fantastic photographs from the 1870s to the 2000s. It’s fascinating to see the changes to the boardwalk and the amusement park over the last century, and as well as the many photographs, the book contains a fair amount of information. One of the most famous historical icons of Coney Island is the Elephant Hotel, literally shaped like an elephant, which opened in 1884. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by a fire in 1896, which is why it also features in the Lost New York title below.

Berlin in the 20s by Rainer Metzger
This book was an unexpected gift that I was extremely pleased with. Berlin is one of my favourite cities and I am hoping to see a lot more of Germany in the near future. The front of the jacket features the George Grosz painting, ‘Metropolis’. I am very fond of German Expressionist art and film, and this is of course covered in the book. It features dozens of black and white photographs – of people, of cultural places, of architecture, and lots of art by prominent German artists of the era like Dix and Kirchner.

Lost New York by Marcia Reiss
Another title bought on location. This is a very noteworthy book, featuring photographs of long gone New York landmarks, some of which are architecturally stunning, like the Singer Building, built in 1908 and demolished a mere 60 years later. Another great loss to the city was Penn Station in 1966, which had fallen into disrepair. The station still exists in name, and there are talks of demolishing Madison Square Garden to make way for a brand new station. Of course, the biggest loss to the New York City skyline was the Twin Towers, destroyed (but never forgotten) in 2011.

This book belongs to my boyfriend, and it fits in to a cardboard sleeve with a rope handle, making it a great gift option. Although I wear Adidas trainers I would never have purchased this book, however, it is actually quite interesting. It documents the history of the company, with a short biography of the founder, Adi Dassler. Photographs include the first Adidas trainers worn at the 1928 Olympics, sprinter Jesse Owens’ spikes and Muhammad Ali’s boxing boots.

X-Ray Art by Nick Veasey
I picked this up a few years ago as I found the idea of x-raying random objects rather intriguing. The photographer – or x-rayer – Nick Veasey, seeks to discover the inner beauty of objects, and to create art using a technology which has now become so ingrained in our modern lives, no longer solely for medical purposes, but also for security. Everything from children’s toys, electronic equipment, musical instruments, and even an electric chair have been given the x-ray treatment. The x-rays of leaves and flowers are particularly beautiful.

The World’s Dreamiest Beaches by Birgit Adam and Claudia Piuntek
This book was also a gift. I am in love with the beach. I feel like I can say that because, for me, being near the beach is not weather-dependent. As well as the breathtaking images, what I like about this book is the variety – it features coastlines from every continent – and the inclusion of beaches from colder climes, such as Iceland, Latvia, and the Faroe Islands.

CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed by Frederic Chaubin
A very large, Taschen book of photography, which also belongs to my boyfriend. It features chapters on Entertainment and Culture; Science and Technology; Sports and Youth; Health and Resorts; and Rites and Symbols. The brutalist architecture is distinctive, imposing and mesmerising. Personal choices are the Russian Academy of Sciences, Chisinau Circus (Moldova), and the Palace of Weddings in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). Slightly lacking in information, but the architecture is incredible.

I also have a number of Art Deco coffee table books, as well as more text heavy ones. I will write a separate post solely on Art Deco books.