Giving a book at Christmas is a thoughtful gift, tailor-made for the person who will read it. On the subject of vintage furniture, the choice is really rich between coffee table books and more articulated texts that offer, to connoisseurs and newcomers, ideas for updating, making new discoveries and why not, clarify some doubts. For example, when discussing vintage furnishings, the term "mid-century modern" is often used. What exactly does this expression include? By definition, it refers to the furnishings produced in the mid-twentieth century, generally from the '30s to the late '60s; some critics, on the other hand, use the term to indicate exclusively the production of furnishings from the end of the '40s to the end of the '50s. What's more, the adjective is often abused on the web, and attributed to furniture that has very little to do with mid-century! The term began spreading in the '80s, also thanks to authors such as Cara Greenberg and her book Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s in 1984: it became a definition which grouped the most iconic pieces of the '50s in Europe and the United States — as for example the Eames’ "Lounge Chair", or George Nelson’s lamps and furniture designed for Herman Miller.
The book Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses by Dominic Bradbury (Phaidon, 2019) is a thorough mapping of the mid-century production analyzed through 400 of the most beautiful houses of the mid-twentieth century, divided by continents and accompanied by conditions and accessibility information: from the most famous American residences, including the Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, up to those unknown (but still extraordinary), located between Australia, Africa and Asia. These architectural masterpieces are the treasure chest of the creations of the great protagonists of 20th century design such as Marcel Breuer and Alvar Aalto. Among them, Gio Ponti appears as an evidence of the success of the made in Italy in the world: in this volume, Ponti plays his part with important projects such as the Villa Arreaza and the Villa Planchart in Caracas, the Nemazee villa in Iran (soon to be demolished), and the Casa sotto la foglia in Malo (Vicenza), designed with Nanda Vigo.
Atlas of furniture design, just published by the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein (Germany), contains 200 years of history of modern furniture from the 19th century to the present. The volume features the images of 1740 objects (taken from the museum's permanent collection), made by 540 designers. Furniture and objects also appear in thousands of illustrations including interior photographs, technical pages and projects signed by the great authors of different times: from the fathers of the Modern Movement (Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, Eileen Gray), up to contemporary designers such as Jasper Morrison, passing through the masters of postmodernism and Scandinavian design. And much, much more.
Our Christmas wish list could not miss an Italian author's book: Enrico Morteo (architect, design critic and historian) has just published with Electa the new edition of the Grande atlante del design dal 1850 a oggi (Great atlas of design from 1850 to today), a practical and easy to consult volume, which will be highly appreciated by experts, while being suitable for those approaching the history of European and American design for the first time and want to keep an eye on emerging contemporary movements. Articulated on a chronological and geographical path of over 200 double pages, the book deals with 600 objects between home, automobile universe, technology, photography, fashion and food. Among the iconic pieces stand out a few everyday life objects, which we often take as granted, but are full of curiosities: from the Bic lighter to the Coca Cola bottle and the supermarket trolley.