Design Shelf: Four Inspiring Summer Reads


If your idea of indulgent summer reading involves curling up with a gorgeous coffee table book in an air-conditioned study instead of napping under a novel at the beach, here are four recently published art and design tomes to get lost in.

For a shot of pure joy and a visual palette-cleanse, it’s hard to beat the exuberant geometries and pure, luminous color of Ellsworth Kelly’s large-scale shaped canvases. The newly released Ellsworth Kelly (Phaidon, $60)—a revised edition of the final book the influential American artist oversaw before his death in 2015—considers the entire range of the minimalist’s artistic output, including his monochromatic masterpieces, relief paintings, collages and sculpture. Essays by author Tricia Paik and SFMOMA’s Gary Garrels, among other leading art experts, offer fresh perspectives on this pillar of postwar modernism.


In Modern Tropical: Houses in the Sun (Rizzoli New York, $45), Après Garde magazine founding editor Brian Hawkes provides an in-depth tour of 35 homes across the globe that exemplify indoor-outdoor symbiosis, including recent projects by Pritzker-prize winner Tadao Ando, Olson Kundig Architects, Bali-based Alexis Dornier and Mexico’s Roof Arquitectos. A must-have for homeowners anywhere looking to create smart, site-sensitive design in harmony with nature.


A handsome object, Exhibit A (Phaidon, $80), by Yale School of Architecture professor Eva-Liisa Pelkonen, is the first book to explore the influence of design exhibitions on architectural thinking in the 20th century and how, in turn, the field of architecture has transformed exhibition-making. A detailed chronology and some 400 archival images illuminate more than 80 landmark architecture exhibitions held around the world—from the New York World’s Fair in 1964 to the Venice Architecture Biennale in 1996—making this tome an essential reference for the architect’s library.


Connoisseurs of garden culture will delight in The Wirtz Gardens: Part Three (DAP, $140), the latest installment in a series devoted to the work of Belgian landscape designer Jacques Wirtz. This lavish volume, featuring photography by Bertrand Limbour, presents more than 30 projects, including previously unseen private gardens in the United States and Switzerland, a stunning retreat in Japan near Mount Fuji and a fashion show environment for Christian Dior.  


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