Craft Your Space

Craft Your Space

Published on Monday, January 21, 2013. This article appears in the February/March 2013 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff
Modern Living Accessories

Photo by Mark LaFavor

Modern Living Accessories: 100 Years of Design
Edited by Andrea Mehlhose and Martin Wellner
H.F. Ullmann, $60

At nearly eight pounds, 512 pages, and presented in English, French, and German, Modern Living Accessories is a beast, but how could it not be? It’s like a design time machine, a comprehensive resource chronicling the past century of useful (and semi-useful) objects for the home. Andrea Mehlhose and Martin Wellner (jointly Fremdkörper Design, based in Germany) last collaborated on the highly praised Modern Furniture. Their latest offering takes a similar approach, starting with contemporary works before exploring those from decades past.

Essays by the editors and 13 contributors augment the highly visual tome, touching on trends, periods, and influences with candor. Color psychologist Hermann Janiesch on the 1970s, for example: “With beige and brown you can’t screw anything up.” Design scholar Nicola Richter probes the lava lamp, often found in rooms “where the floors and side-tables were filled with long-necked glassware, mirrors, and strikingly small containers.” While some featured designers are now household names – Eva Zeisel and Isamu Noguchi, among others – there are many more who flew under the radar, even if their wares didn’t. You can’t help but linger on the many impressive images, admiring the beauty of form, color, and function – proof of the timeless appeal of good design.  ~Andrew Zoellner


The Things that Matter
By Nate Berkus
Spiegel & Grau, $35

The Things that Matter is a book you’ll want to display, with its lush photographs of fascinating interiors, stand-alone images of beautiful and unusual objects, and portraits of the people they belong to. Which, in a way, makes it delightful that it’s also a book you’ll want to read, savor, even study. Berkus transports readers into 13 homes (including his own); we see the spaces of friends and colleagues, some of whom are also the designer’s clients (pleasant surprises among them: grandmotherly sex therapist “Dr. Ruth” Westheimer and Chris Gardner, who inspired the 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness). In telling their stories, Berkus offers ample insight into the process of discovering a true individual style and deep wisdom about the ways things can express one’s sense of home and self. ~Julie K. Hanus


Decorate: 1,000 Professional Design Ideas for Every Room in Your House
By Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick
Chronicle Books, $35

Decorate Workshop: Design and Style Your Space in 8 Creative Steps
By Holly Becker
Chronicle Books, $27.50

These two volumes make a great pair. Published in 2011, Decorate is a luscious survey of different styles and different rooms, from the kitchen to the kids’ room. Throughout are ideas on maximizing space and impact by such big-name designers as Kelly Wearstler, Amy Butler, and Jonathan Adler. Decorate Workshop is the follow-up manual with a decidedly practical bent. In it, Holly Becker takes readers through a step-by-step process to identify personal style, collect ideas and materials, and execute. Workshop is limited by a devotion to a flea-market aesthetic, but its potential to nurture design skills in readers, especially those who peruse the first volume, makes up for that. ~Monica Moses