Around the World

Around the World

Published on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. This article appears in the June/July 2013 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff
Past & Present: 24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY

Past & Present: 24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY Projects Inspired by Them. Photo: Mark LaFavor

Past & Present: 24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY Projects Inspired by Them
By Amy Azzarito
Abrams, $27.50

There are decorative arts histories, and there are how-to craft guides. Past & Present is a rare animal: a book that combines the two.

Since 2009, Design*Sponge managing editor and dec arts scholar Amy Azzarito has written a Past & Present column for the popular blog. Here she expands on the column, pairing 24 essays on aesthetic objects and styles – from the obelisks of ancient Egypt to 1930s Hollywood regency – with 24 DIY projects inspired by those objects and styles. So an essay on 19th-century European chinoiserie is followed by instructions for making a chinoiserie pedestal – designed by Todd Oldham, no less. The piece on William Morris and the arts and crafts movement leads into an arts and crafts-style woodblock lamp project designed by Meg Mateo Ilasco. Charming illustrations by Julia Rothman enhance the essays, and photos by Ellen Silverman make the projects tempting. Past & Present is learned but accessible, practical but substantive.  ~Monica Moses


The Design Book: 1,000 New Designs for the Home and Where to Find Them
By Jennifer Hudson
Laurence King, $30

The subtitle of this substantial volume – 1,000 New Designs for the Home and Where to Find Them – tells only half its story. Yes, it contains images of hundreds of interesting, beautiful objects, from furniture and tableware to textiles and lighting. And a tidy caption attends each one, providing the name, designer (including location), materials, dimensions, and web address. What the subtitle does not – cannot – say is what a rush it is to read. Jennifer Hudson, for 15 years the general editor of the International Design Yearbook, has assembled a global group of objects not only aesthetically pleasing but also intellectually thrilling, dealing with questions of economics, environment, and more. Peppered with Q&As, profiles, and essays, The Design Book is as much a catalogue of tangible objects as a snapshot of human ingenuity.  ~Julie K. Hanus


Indigo: The Color that Changed the World
By Catherine Legrand
Thames & Hudson, $50

In Indigo, textile connoisseur Catherine Legrand traces the iconic color across continents and through history – into Levi Strauss’ blue jeans, Napoleon’s uniforms, and Japan’s finest kimonos, to name but a few final destinations. Legrand visits dyers in Europe, Asia, India, West Africa, and Central America to get a feel for how the process varies by region and country. Exhaustive descriptions with ample contemporary and historical context will please the avid textile artist or enthusiast, and could even prove too much for the casual reader. The lush visuals, however, will give anyone and everyone a new appreciation for the everlasting beauty of this natural color. With more than 500 images in nearly 300 pages, the book will leave you feeling as if your hands may turn blue just from flipping through it.  ~Andrew Zoellner