From Our Library: October / November 2019

From Our Library: October / November 2019

Published on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. This article appears in the October/November 2019 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Chair Anatomy spreads

A look inside Chair Anatomy: Design and Construction.

Mark LaFavor
Chair Anatomy: Design and Construction

Chair Anatomy: Design and Construction

Mark LaFavor

Chair Anatomy: Design and Construction
By James Orrom
Thames & Hudson, $60

With Chair Anatomy, industrial designer James Orrom provides hands-on insight into 54 chair designs from the last 150 years in a way that most people would never experience in person, save for those who like to disassemble furniture. Each piece gets a few paragraphs that share the inspiration and stories behind the chair’s production. But the real delight is in the book’s more than 700 images and illustrations, which show exactly how materials are combined to make something that’s both useful and beautiful. On top of that, each chair’s dimensions are listed, including the most important of all: the height and angle of the seat, and the angle of the back rest.

If you’ve never peered under the base of an Eames DSW chair or removed the cushions from Le Corbusier’s LC2, you’re in for a treat. And if you’re thinking of making your own chair, this book will help kickstart your efforts. ~Andrew Zoellner
 


 

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History

Mark LaFavor

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History
By Kassia St. Clair
Liveright Publishing, $24

“All textiles begin with a twist,” Kassia St. Clair writes in her riveting book, available in the US in November. She’s describing a technique of the trade – thread and yarn must be twisted to keep their shape – but she’s also alluding to the winding global tales that make textile history so engaging. Fiber devotees will relish the book’s historical details, from the story of how British archaeologist Howard Carter brushed aside the most sacred part of Tutankhamun’s mummy, the linen, in his haste to uncover gold and gems, to the development of the synthetic fibers that helped humans scale Mount Everest and land on the moon.

St. Clair addresses her subject not just as a material history of cloth, but as a survey of “textile thinking” across civilizations. From working through a “knotty” problem, to “spinning a good yarn,” to finding that plans are “unraveling,” St. Clair shows us how the structure of cloth has given us vivid metaphors to make sense of our world. ~Sarah Archer
 


 

Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making

Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making

Mark LaFavor

Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making
By CraftNOW, edited by Glenn Adamson
Schiffer Publishing, $40

Since 2015, CraftNOW has been amplifying Philadelphia’s many rich and diverse maker cultures through tours and other events. At the American Craft Council’s "Present Tense" conference, hosted in the city this October, CraftNOW releases its first book with Schiffer Publishing, a survey of all that makes Philadelphia a capital for craft. Edited by scholar and curator Glenn Adamson, the publication features essays by local writers, curators, and educators that explore how handwork is embedded in the city’s history, social fabric, and economies. Interspersed are lively visual essays by Jessica Kourkounis documenting everything from volunteers assembling costumes for the annual Mummers Parade, to Simon Firth building a bicycle in his shop, to stained glass artist Judith Schaechter working in her studio. If you’re looking for a vicarious visit to a robust craft scene, this book is your ticket. ~Megan Guerber