Our Holiday Roundup of the Season’s Most Intriguing Design Books

David Netto

David Netto released his very first book earlier this fall. Published by Vendome, it presents 20 of his interiors projects.

David Netto may have dropped out of Harvard Architecture School, but as we see in his new eponymous Vendome monograph, it all worked out in the end. He fashioned a successful career for himself not only as an interior designer but as a prolific writer on architecture and decor as well. The book features 20 of his tastefully exuberant, eclectic interiors projects, largely in the New York and Los Angeles areas. Each is presented in lovely photographs, plus evocative watercolors by Mita Corsini Bland that set an elegant tone. (The giant leaf-print-upholstered sofa for a house in the Bahamas impresses even more in the artist’s rendering than in a photo.) Netto’s deeply personal text suggests that decorating may be a “dying art,” but the book shows how he is keeping it alive and vibrant. Even as Netto nods to his mentors, including design legend Albert Hadley, he unquestionably moves the form forward with his warm and inviting work.

Photo by Gieves Anderson

Illustration by Mita Corsini Bland

Photo by Gieves Anderson

Photo by Pieter Estersohn

Photo by Simon Upton

Rose Uniacke at Work

Rose Uniacke, a British interior designer known for a spare yet sumptuous style, published her latest book with Rizzoli.  

The British designer Rose Uniacke balances rigor and softness in her work, which extends from interiors to her acclaimed lines of furniture, fabrics and paint. In this Rizzoli volume, which includes a foreword by design writer Alice Rawsthorn, Uniacke begins with a look at her own London home. Its spaces prominently display artworks by the likes of Gerhard Richter and Carl Andre, as well as what she calls “John Soanian views through arches,” an allusion to the 19th-century British architect that reflects her love for updating classical forms. With the help of images from photographers Simon Upton, François Halard and Luke White, she moves on to show off other houses, like a particularly impressive 19th-century Notting Hill home, whose drawing room features Uniacke’s own Rosewater armchair in dark green across from sleek 1950s Alvar Aalto chairs, while a bedroom incorporates a chair by Jean Royère in yellow velvet and Royère wall lights. On every page, the designer demonstrates her knack for making smart planning look like offhand simplicity.

Photo by François Halard

Photo by Simon Upton

Photo by Simon Upton

Photo by Simon Upton

Photo by François Halard

Blue and White Done Right: The Classic Color Combination for Every Decorating Style

Iconic textile company Schumacher partnered with Monacelli to release a new book devoted to the classic pairing of blue and white. 

The phrase “blue and white” may most immediately make you think of classic Chinese porcelain, but the color combination is so much more, as we discover in this Monacelli title. Created by the iconic fabric company Schumacher, and authored by Hudson Moore with Mario López-Cordero, the book begins with a glossary defining the various tones of the titular colors, from cornflower to cerulean and from porcelain to ecru. From there, the authors devote chapters to different styles, including Bohemian and Traditional, each featuring rooms by such top decorators as 1stDibs 50 members Summer Thornton and Tom Scheerer, among others. Throughout, Schumacher’s designs, both subtle and rich, claim the spotlight, but the photographs show how the two hues perform a dance of complementing and contrasting when used in wallpaper, paint, carpets and artworks too. What ultimately comes across is how well blue and white play with each other, and others.

Photo by Francesco Lagnese

Photo by Francesco Lagnese

Photo by Melanie Acevedo

Photo by Francois Halard

Photo by Melanie Acevedo

Jake Arnold: Redefining Comfort 

The debut monograph from California-based, British-born designer Jake Arnold showcases nine of the homes he’s created.

The young British-born, Los Angeles–based designer Jake Arnold is known for emotionally resonant interiors. So it makes sense that the chapters of this book, his first, published by Rizzoli, are named for vibes, including “Immersive” and “Optimism.” Whatever the mood, he favors soft-looking rich surfaces and a relatively neutral palette that sometimes includes a shot of millennial pink, as in a cement bathtub for a contemporary house in Benedict Canyon. (He loves sculptural tubs, as well as Calacatta marble.) Photographer Michael P. H. Clifford captures Arnold’s clever decor juxtapositions in all nine homes showcased here, such as custom stone tables providing a contemporary counterpoint to an antique rug in a Hancock Park mock-Tudor. At the end of each chapter, Arnold takes us inside his process with a sidebar including the mood boards and explaining his decision making along the way. Reading the recipe makes the result all the tastier.

All slideshow photos by Michael P. H. Clifford

Maximalism: Bold, Bedazzled, Gold, and Tasseled Interiors

A new book from Phaidon devoted to maximalism includes work by such masters of the style as Sasha Bikoff, Ken Fulk, Greg Natale and Michelle Nussbaumer.

Leave it to designer Simon Doonan, famed for his Barneys window creations, to summarize the thesis of this new volume from Phaidon with Wildean wit in his introduction: “Maximalists have no desire to seek approval from others. Their goal is to hypnotize onlookers into a state of adoring submission.” The rest of the book is an A-to-Z photographic index of big, bold and layered interiors from the 17th century (the War Room at Versailles, dripping with ormolu and crystal) to our own (designer Kelly Wearstler’s 2018 dining room in Los Angeles, complete with an Op art–inflected table in thick black-and-white stripes). Certain designers known for unrestrained oomph — Tony Duquette, Miles Redd and Mario Buatta prominent among them — get more than one entry, and inspirational quotes punctuate the pictures, including an apt thought from Andy Warhol: “Always leave them wanting less.”

Photo by Nicholas Sargent

Photo by Manolo Yllera/Photofoyer

Photo by Francis Amiand

Photo by Country Life/Future Publishing Ltd

Photo by Alise O’Brien

Behind the Blue Door

Behind the Blue Door book
A new Vendome title shines a spotlight on the New York City townhouse of collector, philanthropist and former Estée Lauder CEO John Demsey, who worked with designer Bibi Monnahan on its interiors.

Speaking of maximalism, a kaleidoscopic density is on display in this volume from Vendome, too. It invites readers inside the happy visual riot that is the six-story Upper East Side townhouse of John Demsey, former Estée Lauder executive and longtime collector and philanthropist, who decorated the home with interior designer Bibi Monnahan. The living room alone seems to feature every blue hue ever conceived, including denim window shades and a midnight-blue chandelier by Philippe Starck. These keep company with a colorful series of photographs from Demsey’s huge collection of works by Ellen von Unwerth, David Bailey and other masters of the form. Text by TV journalist Alina Cho and photographs by Douglas Friedman help us understand the pinpoint organization it takes to make witty harmony out of what in other hands would be too much.

All slideshow photos by Douglas Friedman

Glass Houses 

Glass Houses
This Phaidon title explores residential glass architecture from mid-20th-century to contemporary times.

Readers won’t want to throw stones at this Phaidon release, which offers 50 examples that go a long way toward convincing us that its titular form of domestic architecture is an indisputable high point of modern and contemporary design. In his introduction, Andrew Heid — the founding principal of the firm No Architecture — breaks down the various types of these homes. Included, of course, is Philip Johnson’s masterwork, the Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut. But Heid goes beyond that most famous example to spotlight homes around the globe, from Chile to Japan to South Africa. The updated brutalist look of a Faulkner Architects project near Lake Tahoe, for example, shows glass working beautifully with concrete. Heid emphasizes how such designs connect us to nature and help to make architecture “almost disappear.”

Photo by Erik Johnson

Photo by Oskar Da Riz

Photo by

Photo by PANOV – SCOTT

Photo by Cristobal Palma

 Alexa Hampton: Design, Style & Influence

Alexa Hampton‘s new book, which includes her own Manhattan home, is part design monograph, part design memoir.

After taking over the design firm founded by her father, the late Mark Hampton, Alexa Hampton has put a more modern spin on his Anglophilia and love of classicism. In this book, released by Clarkson Potter in October, she traces her journey using her own Manhattan home as a map. It’s in a building where she has occupied five different apartments over the decades, some of which she eventually combined. The book provides insights into her approach and glimpses of how she lives, as in a photo of a largely neutral sitting room enlivened by a bergère upholstered in rose-colored fabric, near a colorful photograph by Massimo Listri. In addition, it presents homes that have influenced her, including the late fashion icon Bill Blass‘s house and a historic palazzo in Seville, Spain. Her text is charming, conversational and self-deprecating. She knows when to pause and, as she puts it, “let the photos do the talking.”

All slideshow photos by Steve Freihon

An Entertaining Life: Designing Town and Country 

An Entertaining Life: Designing Town and Country book
London-based designers Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen invite readers inside their own homes, and those of several clients, in their recently released monograph.

Noted interior designers Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen live very well, both in an apartment in London’s Belgravia and in a charming Tudor-style brick cottage they renovated in verdant Sussex, England. Bunny Williams writes in her introduction to their new Vendome book that it will make readers feel like guests of the couple. The text is chatty, delivering tips the authors might tell a friend, including some recipes at the end. Divided into sections named for days of the week, the book tracks the couple’s movements through their two homes, each done in the antique-filled, comfortable style for which they’re known. (There are also detours to projects for clients in Italy’s Portofino and Sicily, as well as the Dominican Republic, where they redecorated a famed property at Casa de Campo originally designed by Oscar de la Renta.) The theme of entertaining puts tablescapes in the spotlight, as in an inviting photograph of the couple’s London dinner setup, with fine china, silver and potted flowers on a damask tablecloth extending down a long table. They own so many such accessories that guests never have to see anything twice. But with table decor this attractive, repetition would be pleasant indeed.

Photo by Clive Nichols

Photo by Paolo Moschino/Philip Vergeylen

Photo by Bozho Gagovski

Photo by Clive Nichols

Photo by Clive Nichols

Nina Magon: Evoke

In her book, Houston’s Nina Magon combines photographs of and text about her interiors with portraits of herself in fashion-forward ensembles.

A designer’s first book needs to stake a bold claim, and this one, from Monacelli, does just that. Nina Magon, who wrote the text with Jill Sieracki, rose to fame on the show American Dream Builders, hosted by Nate Berkus, and since then, her career has taken off, thanks to her sophisticated but unconventional style. She favors rounded forms and rich textures and has a great eye for creating neutral schemes that come alive with a zing of plum or teal. The book demonstrates her excellence at residential work through projects in locations from Houston to Abu Dhabi — check out the pattern of exquisite moldings and the moss-like green armchairs by the Campana Brothers that enliven the vast foyer of an Emirati home. But she also takes on spas, showrooms, restaurants and boutiques, all of which balance, as she puts it, “high energy with areas of retreat.” Portraits of the designer in high-fashion looks throughout the book give it some extra pop.

Photo by Julie Soefer

Photo by Julie Soefer

Photo by Julie Soefer

Photo by Nina Magon Studio

Star Style: The Interiors of Martyn Lawrence Bullard  

Martyn Lawrence Bullard Star Style book
Martyn Lawrence Bullard‘s new monograph brings us inside the homes of celebrities, including RuPaul and Tommy Hilfiger. 

When was the last time you saw a book introduction — or any piece of writing, really — authored by Cher? Probably never. The Oscar-winning actress and legendary singer penned a short introduction to this new Vendome title because of her love for its titular designer, who has fashioned multiple homes for her, including a palazzo-inspired Malibu mansion. Based in Los Angeles, Martyn Lawrence Bullard is known for giving homes a brash, pop-fueled eclecticism. Consider the 27 custom-made disco balls he hung from the ceiling of RuPaul’s Beverly Hills ballroom or what he calls the“Moorish energy” of his own house, which sports Moravian star motifs in the doors. He can also go traditional (though never boring), as at Tommy Hilfiger’s former Connecticut estate, with its down-filled leather club chairs and dozens of mounted antlers. Almost every project Bullard does has a significant amount of black somewhere — including in the homes of the three Kardashian sisters included in the book — because he knows that stars shine brightest when given a strong contrast.

Photo by Douglas Friedman

Photo by Douglas Friedman

Photo by Oberto Gili

Photo by Douglas Friedman

Photo by Roger Davies

Romantic Modernism

Bobby McAlpine‘s latest book shows off his talent for traditional American vernacular architecture — and his passion for poetry, too.

Design can be poetic, and so can designers. In this Rizzoli book, architect Bobby McAlpine, writing with Susan Sully, engages in flights of fancy in a series of chapters that are more discursive than descriptive; at the end of the volume is an actual poem he penned, “On Intimacy.” Of the 1stDibs 50 honoree’s own Nashville home, which shows his penchant for white exteriors, high ceilings and squared-off volumes, McAlpine writes, “There is a recurrent feeling in the house of its being a vessel — a ship, an airplane, a cathedral.” Among the other projects in the book are a neoclassical Bahamas retreat and a wood-planked minimalist farmhouse in the Tennessee countryside. Veteran photographer Simon Upton captures the distinctive look and scale of McAlpine’s go-to features, like highly pitched white gables, and manages to harmonize with the inspiring text. The book is a good gift for anyone who has a true romance with their own home.

All slideshow photos by Simon Upton

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