Design Books That I Love Right Now

I guess what’s great right now is that there are re-runs on so many channels that I have had to relax by reading instead.

Good thing because I have had a stack of books by my bedside, along with catalogs that I save and magazines that have been read in a hurry and I can now go back and leisurely re-read them.

My most current find is Charles Harper’s Birds and Wisdom. “ Charley Harper was an American original. For over 60 years, he painted in a style he referred to as minimal realism….He liked to say “I could never get close enough to count the feathers in the wings, so I just count the wings”.” (from the dust jacket). Todd Oldham is the designer of the day- and he has probably the most to do with Charley Harper’s images getting a second look.

Charley was smack dab in the mid century or what was then, the 1950’s, when he started working. His work became more recognizable when he was hired by Ford Motor Company to be a writer and illustrator for their magazine, “ Ford Times ”, and stayed there a remarkable 30 years.

What is so captivating is how fresh his illustrations look today. And how he has captured the essence of the birds he drew in the fewest of lines. His color ideas are also refreshing and look so modern.

My next favorite book for eye candy is Eva Zeisel by Lucie Young. Eva is another of the great designers of the 20 th century. She is probably best known for two designs of china, one called Town and Country , made for the company, Red Wing and a second design, called Tomorrow’s Classic , for Hall China .

I happen to have a set of Tomorrow’s Classic dinnerware, which my parents had. It’s white with a black motif that looks like a starburst. I love this set because the lines of the pitchers and other serving pieces are so fluid. The dinnerware looks so amazing to me. And, over the years, I have collected vintage 1950’s tablecloths that work well with these dishes.

I put them away for awhile because small children have a way of dropping things. I look forward to bringing them back out now, especially because of this book.

Even more amazing is that Eva has had such a prolific career beyond designing china. She designed a tubular steel and canvas chair, which is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). She has designed interiors for offices and retail stores. Most recently, she designed pieces that Nambe’ has produced.

The last book I have been reading is COLOR: Messages and Meanings, a Pantone Color Resource by Leatrice Eiseman. Ms. Eiseman is the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute and founder of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training.

All I can say is what a feast for the eyes. Each section takes a color range and helps put into words the emotions, positively or negatively, that this color range invokes. Of course, color has connotations. For example some colors work for selling things, and some colors might be a turn-off. But this book is a great way to get your creative juices flowing and your mojo working!

The best part is the actual Pantone color number and how it’s been married with other complimentary, monochromatic and other color methods. It shows how color can work in many different situations. Certainly, the photographs of successful ads, interior designs, products and other uses help demonstrate the usefulness of this book.

The price of the book might steer you away- but I can’t seem to bring myself to buy the Pantone Color Charts, so to me this is the next best item for color references and ideas.

There is not a book that I don’t wish I owned. Maybe you’ve got a favorite- I’d love to hear where your design inspirations come from.

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