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  • Writer's pictureCraig Fuller

Coffee Table Reads: The Haus' Summer Book Reviews

Who said print is dead? Not us—especially if you're addicted to the tactile appeal of pages waiting to be turned and oversize images waiting to be savored. Here's a quick review of some of the great design and travel books we've been devouring lately.

1. Transatlantic Style by Donald Osborne

What Art Deco was to architecture and décor Aero and Streamline was to cars during the thirties and forties. Some of the most fluid and elegant designs were coming out of Italy.

This book connects dots and dove-tails trends between the top Italian marques and the streamlining of American car design from the bulbous 1930s to the Space Age designs of the 1950s.

Authoritative writing and amazing photography bring some of the most beautifully styled cars—of all time—to life.

This book is, in fact, a catalogue that accompanied twin exhibits at museums in both Italy and California.

2. Concrete Screen Block: The Power of Pattern by Ron and Barbara Marshall

I have a thing for decorative concrete block walls— frequently a screening device in front of homes or commercial buildings. Largely associated with mid-century modern design, these ornamental blocks strike me as the perfect intersection of form and function, ornament and structure, materiality and durability joining up with affordability and ease of installation.

This book is a great compendium of history and images that document one of the most ubiquitous and whimsical expressions of modernism during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

3. Jazz: New York in the Roarding Twenties by Robert Nippoldt & Hans-Jurgen Schaal

Three likes: Picture books, early jazz, and illustration. Here, the consummate blend of all three. It’s an illustrated anthology of 1920s jazz with Harlem as its epicenter, featuring vignettes of all the greats—Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ethel Waters, Bennie Goodman, and twenty others.

Just as loose and cool is the drawing style used for portraits, scenes and infographics.Tasty layouts, black and brown inks and uncoated stock all evoke an unvarnished, inventive age in American music.

4. New West by Wolfgang Wagener & Leslie Erganian

This 300-page feast chronicles California’s transformation during the 1930s and 40s, as documented by hand-colored postcards during that period.

Scores of images printed on linen, cover California’s geography, infrastructure, cities and attractions during a transitional period in California’s coming of age as a major destination and economic engine.

Here, picturesque settings mingle with burgeoning highways and expanding downtowns. Even though many of the

postcards were produced during the Great Depression, new development and hand-applied color make for a relentlessly optimistic and sun-drenched panorama—beckoning visitors and transplants, alike.


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