Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century is a 400-page compendium of the most spectacular spaces of the 20th century, organized not by date of completion or location, but in alphabetical order, giving the volume an encyclopedic authority—and the reader a sense of freedom and discovery. Each room is represented by a single photo "worth a thousand words" (in the words of interior design and fashion editor William Norwich in his introduction) and a short text describing the work and the designer.
The content is broad in scope and endlessly inspiring: residential interior spaces are presented from six continental regions and over 25 countries, with work not only from decorators, architects, and designers, but also spaces conceived of by fashion designers, artists, film stars, style icons, and other towering figures in residential design.
Norwich’s introduction touches on the evolution of interior design in the United States: the influence of early designers such as Elsie de Wolfe and writers and tastemakers like Edith Wharton; the importance of photography, in particular for midcentury modern design; and the growth of shelter magazines.
But what exactly is great design, and what makes the spaces presented "the greatest"? This is considered in three other essays in the book by Graeme Brooker, head of the School of Fashion and Interiors at Middlesex University; David Netto, interior designer and writer; and Carolina Irving, an interiors editor. From discussions of Sir John Soane’s London home of the late 18th century to the influence of Wes Anderson films, the rowdy trends of the 1980s to the question of good taste, these essays give depth and food for thought as one thumbs through the ensuing pages.
What follows in the book are a mixture of color and black-and-white photography of everything from the modernist, stark geometry of a dining room from the 1940s by Parisian designer Jacques Adnet to the lavish, Rococo flourishes of a 1980s salon in Venice by Tony Duquette and Hutton Wilkinson. We’ve pulled out some of our favorite spreads below.
Related Reading: Design Icon: 8 Avant-Garde Buildings by Ricardo Bofill
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