Around the two-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little that looks the same as it did in March 2020, whether it’s how we work, how we study, or even how we move about our own homes. Many titles in this selection of spring architecture and design book releases show just how authors and design professionals are grappling with the major changes of our time. Volumes such as Debbie Millman’s Why Design Matters and Paola Antonelli’s Design Emergency share the diverse viewpoints and design solutions of some of the world’s leading creative voices; Otto von Busch’s Making Trouble and Max Holleran’s Yes to the City evaluate forms of DIY and housing activism; and Stephen Vider’s Queerness of Home and Suchi Reddy’s Form Follows Feeling tap into a more empathetic, human-centered approach to space. All of them, in some way, look at the past as a way to see clearly into the future of the built environment.
Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People
By Debbie Millman, Harper Collins, 368 p.p., $60
With a foreword by her wife Roxane Gay, Debbie Millman’s Why Design Matters contains over 80 of the writer, designer, and curator’s best interviews from her beloved podcast Design Matters. The richly illustrated volume groups the visionaries into themes—Legends, Truth Tellers, Culture Makers, Trendsetters, and Visionaries—and includes the likes of Marina Abramovic, Carmen Maria Machado, Eileen Myles, and Milton Glaser, to name a few.
Making Trouble: Design and Material Activism
By Otto von Busch, Bloomsbury, 256 p.p., $55
In his latest book, Otto von Busch, associate professor of integrated design at Manhattan’s Parsons School of Design, examines the relationship between power and the material practices of design and craft. Drawing on the political philosophies of William Morris, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Zapatistas, Busch outlines crafts’ radical potential to disrupt the capitalist state through examples ranging from moonshining and the Anarchist Cookbook to DIY medical clinics.
The Queerness of Home: Gender, Sexuality, & the Politics of Domesticity after World War II
By Stephen Vider, The University of Chicago Press, 304 p.p., $29
The Queerness of Home uncovers how queer Americans shaped domestic life in the postwar United States. While the mainstream histories of LGBTQ+ life and activism primarily exist within the public sphere (think Stonewall Riots to Act Up protests), this volume turns inwards to look at queer homes as sites of connection, care, and community. Illustrated with intimate archival photography, Queerness of Home takes a look at topics such as lesbian feminist architecture, community caregiving and the politics of HIV/AIDS, and possibilities for the future of queer homes. Stephen Vider is an assistant professor of history and the director of the Public History Initiative at Cornell University.
Yves Saint Laurent Museum Marrakech: Studio KO
By Studio KO, Phaidon, 272 p.p., $50
The Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech took approximately 1,423 days to design, build, and inaugurate the fashion destination. This book documents French-Moroccan practice, Studio KO’s process for doing so from commission to construction. It was Pierre Bergé, the French industrialist, philanthropist, and co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, that called the studio with the news. “It was not so surprising to receive a call from Pierre,” explains the architects Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty in the book. “But neither was it a common occurrence. We knew each other. But we also knew of his lack of enthusiasm for contemporary architecture.”
Design Emergency: Building a Better Future
By Alice Rawsthorn and Paola Antonelli, Phaidon, 320 p.p., $30
Emerging from the duo’s Instagram collaboration of the same name, design critic Alice Rawsthorn and Museum of Modern Art architecture and design curator Paola Antonelli’s book Design Emergency tell the stories of the visionary designers, architects, engineers, artists, and scientists who are at the forefront of positive change. Organized in four sections–Technology, Society, Communication, and Ecology–the authors present innovative design solutions for the world’s most pressing issues, from COVID-19 to global waste.
Form Follows Feeling
By Suchi Reddy, University of Illinois School of Architecture, limited copies available at the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s book launch on 3/15
Written by architect and founder of Reddymade and edited by Julia van den Hout, Suchi Reddy’s Form Follows Feeling is being published on the occasion of Reddy’s Plym Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture. Presenting a selection of the firm’s work, the book also includes student work from the studio co-taught with professor Kevin Erickson and includes contributions by Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Beatrice Galilee, Isolde Brielmaier, LionHeart, Susan Magsamen, and Michael Spicher. The book launch event will take place at Manhattan’s Storefront for Art and Architecture where Reddy will be in conversation with critic Beatrice Galilee.
Erich Mendelsohn: Buildings and Projects
By Carsten Krohn and Michelle Stavagna, Birkhäuser, 240 p.p., $73
With a foreword by Kenneth Frampton, Birkhäuser’s new monograph on Erich Mendelsohn provides a comprehensive look into all 70 of the 20th-century architect’s built works as well as a register of unbuilt projects. In addition to two essays about Mendelsohn’s design approach and life, the book also includes approximately 90 re-drawn plans, new photography by Carsten Krohn, and historical illustrations.
Back to the Office: 50 Revolutionary Office Buildings and How They Sustained
Edited by Stephan Petermann andRush Baumeister, nai010 publishers, 500 p.p., $99
With contributions by Rem Koolhaas, Herman Hertzberger, Keigo Lab, and Manfredo di Robilant, Back to the Office takes a timely and in-depth look at classic office designs by Mies van der Rohe, SOM, Gio Ponti, Le Corbusier, and more. In an era when many are questioning the need for offices at all, the volume examines how some of the most revolutionary office designs have or have not endured over the years while also diving into the ways in which materials, methods, and work styles have evolved. The book compiles before-and-after photography, archival documents, interviews, and essays that look toward the future of office life.
Yes to the City: Millennials and the Fight for Affordable Housing
by Max Holleran, Princeton University Press, 216 p.p., $28
Yes to the City offers an in-depth look at the “Yes in My Backyard” (YIMBY) movement with its origins in San Francisco and its reach to urban environments from Boulder to Austin to London. Here, Max Holleran, a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Melbourne, provides detailed accounts of the activists–from real estate agents to environmentalists–who are campaigning for things such as better public transit, new zoning rules, and rent-control. Overall, the book chronicles a major shift in housing activism as an entire generation struggles with the state of the market.
By Beatriz Colomina, Ignacio G. Galán, Evangelos Kotsioris and Anna-Maria Meister, MIT Press, 416 p.p., $60
Edited by Beatriz Colomina, Ignacio G. Galan, Evangelos Kotsioris, and Anna-Maria Meister, Radical Pedagogies evaluates the experimental nature of architectural education in the post-World War II era. Giuliana Bruno, Emmet Blakeney Gleason Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University writes that the book is a “history lesson for the present” saying, “Exploring the experimental roots, the radix, of radical pedagogies that emerged globally from the 1930s to the 1980s, this book—a timely, informative intervention on the importance of inventive education—plants the seeds for future pedagogic ecologies. The architectural histories of the 1960s and 1970s foregrounded here, which uprooted the environmental, material, political, and technological status quo, have much to teach us.”
This article was originally published in Metropolis.