There were no bones about it: 2022 was a tough year politically and economically, with little reprieve. Thankfully, we’ve had artistic minds bringing us comfort through literature, providing some much-needed escapism through their pages.
We’ve compiled a list of new tomes we’ve fallen for this year, all with a common thread: they offer balm for the mind and optimism for the future. We’ve included a ground-breaking tome that charts important queer spaces and a hot and steamy globetrotting journey into saunas, hot tubs and hot springs. Inspiration indeed for a better 2023.
Japanese Interiors: Mihoko Iida, with contributions by Danielle Demetriou
This survey of standout private Japanese homes reveals the country’s interior design and how it’s continuing to evolve. The featured homes are a lesson in the artistry of minimalism, with some achieving a sense of transcendentalism through their fusion of light, space and clarity of lines. There’s futuristic joinery, glazed walls that dissolve into nature, and open multi-story levels arranged like a staircase which push the limits of what can be achieved in small spaces. The book’s 28 homes are dotted across the Japanese archipelago and include the dark timber, midcentury icon Maekawa House by Kunio Maekawa, and works by Kengo Kuma and Nendo.
A Kind of Magic: The Kaleidoscope World of Luke Edward Hall
Rising English designer Luke Edward Hall has won a lot of fans in recent years with his whimsical, colourful style that revels in maximalism. In his new monograph, the thirtysomething artist and writer takes us into his London home and Cotswold cottage, which he uses as a canvas for his work: think a modern-day Charleston House, the Sussex home of the Bloomsbury Group. The in-demand designer (who has collab-ed with Liberty’s, Habitat and Svenskt Tenn on homeware and fabrics) creates collaged and hand-drawn designs that ‘draw on local mythology and folklore … 1980s pop music and all things Baroque.’
Masterclass by Abigail Ahern
The queen of layering and glamorous eclecticism, Abigail Ahern brings her ‘rule-breaking’ design knowledge to her latest home design book – the ideal read for January for those planning a revamp in 2023. It has many easy-to-follow sections or ‘masterclasses’, including ‘the do and don’ts of an accent feature wall’ and ‘the seating setups that won’t fail’, designed to form building blocks for a triumphant look at home. Decorating advice is paired with rich imagery of Ahern’s design style, which mixes moody, inky hues with natural, rustic textures and excels in bringing light through the dark.
Design Emergency: Building a Better Future by Alice Rawsthorn and Paola Antonelli
The world has a wealth of new complex challenges, which are fast evolving. But working together, human ingenuity and design can provide the answers, so say the authors of this book. They take inspiration from Khasi families in north India, who, stranded without bridges in the rainy season, employ a strengthening technique using tree roots to prevent them from getting washed away. Mindful we don’t have the luxury of multigenerational timescales to formulate responses, the authors have set out to address the most pressing global issues of AI, the refugee crisis and drone warfare. Their findings from a raft of design experts are shown as written interviews interspersed with full-colour photography.
Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories by Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell
Physical (and virtual) queer spaces are vital spaces where queer people can exist and be together. Still, their histories and stories are rarely documented or make it into mainstream culture. This ‘atlas’ uncovers historical and contemporary examples from around the world, including a ruined cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, an ice-cream parlour in Havana (where the strawberry flavour is the queerest choice) and an independent bookshop in Glasgow, gathered from a community of contributors. This survey of 90 global LGBTQ+ spaces has speculative visions of what form these venues may take in the future.
Building for change: The architecture of creative reuse
In a world battling climate change and dwindling resources, we are increasingly recycling and reusing products, so why not buildings, too? The idea is not entirely new, with warehouse and church conversions being the most obvious examples of adaptive reuse and repurposing. But architects are now exploring ingenious ways to do this, as this book uncovers. Examples include waste repurposed as construction materials, building reworked with canny spatial inventions and modular structures that can be dismantled and relocated again and again.
Thermal Saunas, Hot Springs & Baths by Lindsey Bro
Thermal is a coffee table book that celebrates the ancient ritual of bathing in hot water and steam. This meander into ‘bathleisure’ is brought to you by avid explorer and creative behind Instagram fav @cabinlove, Lindsey Bro, so expect lots of beautiful imagery. There is a Scandi wooden sauna and pier cascading over coastal rocks; a jettied shingle sauna on dark lake waters in the Great Bear Rainforest, Canada; and a snowy-edged open spa in Japan’s Takaragawa Onsen. The book celebrates the ritual of bathing, looking at places, traditions and mythologies surrounding its healing benefits, and examines why humans are drawn to water and heat.
The Council House by Jack Young
Colossal concrete shapes and socially minded design come together in this tour of London’s best-designed council estates and social housing. The book casts light on the Brutalist blocks and Modernist towers built in the postwar era and 1970s. Among them is Trellick Tower by Erno Goldfinger and Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate by Neave Brown, both of which have grade II* listings. Council House was created by photographer and writer Jack Young, a digital product designer who runs the Instagram page @thecouncilhouse. ‘Jack Young’s photographs capture the variety, ambition, excitement of places and communities too often dismissed, undermined and underfunded,’ writes John Grindrod in its introduction.
Wild, The Naturalistic Garden by Noel Kingsbury with photography by Claire Takacs
Painterly, immersive and diverse, wild gardens are a staple of contemporary landscape design. This style of gardens leans into a looser, sustainable planting approach designed to combat declining species levels. Wild is the first comprehensive overview of the global trend, showing a perennial meadow in East Sussex, England and a private, drought-resistant garden in Australia. There are works by big hitters such as Piet Oudolf (who created Hauser & Wirth’s Somerset garden) and advice on creating your own wild patch.
Mudlark’d, Hidden Histories from the River Thames, by Malcolm Russell and Matthew Williams-Ellis
This hardback book displays a museum-worthy collection of objects and artefacts found by modern mudlarks on the Thames foreshore in London. Through meticulous research and contextual illustrations, these discoveries reveal stories from around the world and London’s cosmopolitan connections. Various pieces expose the brutal dynamic of the transatlantic slave trade as well as the lives of Edwardian women parachutists and Victorian magicians. These pieces (from hairpins, a signet ring, and a bone dice to a 1940s Russian rifle cartridge case and a Roman roof tile) were lost or deliberately discarded in the Thames but rediscovered thanks to its tides, sheer luck and the hard work of mudlarkers.
A Home with Art: A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting on any Budget, by Olivia de Fayet, Fanny Saulay and Marie Vendittelli
There is no better way to transform and personalise your home than with original art. But starting your own original art collection can be a daunting process. With this book, co-authors and Christie’s alumni Olivia de Fayet and Fanny Saulay, and Marie Vendittelli debunk the myth that art collecting is only for the elite with their step-by-step guide. There’s advice on developing your taste, gauging whether you’re making a worthwhile investment, where to find artists and galleries and how to define your collection.