Tuesday, February 26, 2008


In honor of my friend Susan McCallum-Smith, who just launched a fantastic literary blog called Belles-Lettres, I thought I would highlight a few of the architecture and design books that have caught my eye recently.

This month, Manhattan design firm AvroKO released a book of their work titled Best Ugly. AvroKO creates fantastic interior environments through a comprehensive language of architecture, typography, and interior design. Some of the strongest examples are in their New York restaurants, like Public, Schiller's, and Quality Meats. Public takes its cue from public library design. The architects used a series of old card catalogue files as a launching point:

The typography for the restaurant's printed materials resembles a typewriter font from an old Dewey Decimal classification card, and even their graphic presentation of interior images carries the theme:

The designers have a knack for creating intimate vignettes within larger spaces, like the use of keys on a wall:

Or, in the case of the Quality Meats restaurant, using butcher hooks with weight scales as decor:

Here's a sample page layout from inside Best Ugly:

On a recent trip to Los Angeles I had the chance to sit down with architect Stephen Kanner in his Santa Monica office. His firm, Kanner Architects, put out a book last year called 11 Projects.

It features Kanner's own home, which was a 2002 Architectural Record House of the Month:

Some of my other favorite projects highlighted in the book include a private residence/office in California and a new gas station in Los Angeles:

Finally, someone with a young child just mentioned how much they love Ellen Lupton's DIY book and her blog DIY for kids. Ellen and her twin sister Julia have published DIY Kids through the Princeton Architectural Press. If this book can make your own progeny half as creative as theirs, it's well worth the $14.95 cover price.