Category Archives: Interior Design

(Green) Thumbs Up!

Even though summer is nearly behind us, it’s not too late to think about gardening.  There are plenty of flowers and produce that can still be planted for a late fall harvest or springtime blooms.  If you’re brand-new to the plant scene, or want some fresh ideas on landscaping or growing your own food, take a look at some of the gardening books here at the library.

The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening is the classic guide for gardeners.  In addition to a clear format written in everyday terms, it has tons of pictures as well as easy-to-read tables and charts.  The plant encyclopedia is useful for deciding what to plant and when.  Best of all, the guide was  recently revised to reflect organic practices.  It’s a great reference gardeners will find themselves using time and again.

If you’re interested in growing an herb garden, Reader’s Digest has published The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs as a companion to the Guide to Gardening.  This guide focuses on all things herbal — from growing herbs, to choosing the correct herbs, to preparing them for various medicinal, culinary, and decorative uses.  It is not necessarily a holistic guide, but rather a practical guide for the common herb enthusiast.

Perhaps you would love to start a garden, but live in an apartment with limited space.  Grow Great Grub understands, and is here to help.  This book has great tips for the urban gardener.  If your backyard is the size of a postage stamp, or if it consists solely of a balcony, don’t fret.  This book has suggestions for either situation, including raised beds and varieties that do well in pots.  You’ll be harvesting your home-grown food in no time!

Maybe you already put your garden in the ground last spring.  What will you do with the crops you don’t eat right away?  You need an easy, tasty way to preserve these hard-won prizes.  You need Canning for a New Generation.  This book takes a fresh look at the time-honored practice of canning fresh fruits and vegetables.  It goes beyond the boring basics with recipes for pickles, jams, and chutneys that will make you glad you spent all that time in the dirt last spring.

World Showcase: Japan

Japan’s vibrant, fascinating culture has had a definite effect on American design and culture.  Just take a look at a few of these items in the library to get a taste of Japanese style.

Fruits is a popular magazine with fashion students on campus, but did you know it is also a book?  The library has two collections of the best photos ever to grace the pages of this quirky Japanese street fashion magazine.  The wild combination of vintage trends with kids couture somehow ends up looking pretty cool.  While the look may seem pretty extreme, it has subtly influenced contemporary American style, most notably Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls collection.

Famous chef Takashi Yagihashi has made Japanese noodles a hot commodity.  You may remember seeing Takashi on the late-night talk show circuit a while ago promoting his book,
Takashi’s Noodles, based on his successful NYC restaurant.  If you’re a lover of ramen noodles, or really noodles in general, you’ll fall in love with the simple, tasty recipes in this book.  It’s comfort food at its Japanese finest.

More and more, the trend in interior design has shifted towards a minimal, clean look.  It’s a style that has been perfected by the Japanese for centuries.  Japan Style is great for the interior designer looking for inspiration on simple yet functional style.  The captions and descriptions of the model houses included give the reader history on aspects of Japanese style as well as ideas as to how to make items more functional in a small space.

Neo Japanesque Graphics is a treat for graphic design students.  The designs included in the book put a modern spin on traditional Japanese design motifs. Additionally, it gives design examples using a variety of different commercial mediums, including packaging, letterhead, calendars, etc.  It’s a good example of the clash between old and new Japanese style.

“Mad” About Interior Design

The TV show Mad Men has become popular not only because of its brilliant writing and engaging characters, but also because of its impeccable recreation of 1960s-era design.  Let’s take a look at some of the designers and styles that you may find while watching your new favorite TV show.

The 1960s saw a revolution in office design, mainly thanks to Herman Miller.  This long-time Michigan company is the father of classic twentieth-century office design.  Classic Herman Miller includes information on the company’s most talented designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Robert Propst, and George Nelson.  It also includes original catalog photos of some of their more famous designs, including the revolutionary 1968 Action Office 2.  If you’re a Herman Miller fan and want to learn even more, check out their design blog — it has tons of great design ideas as well as info on their past and current designers.

Life doesn’t end at the office, as fans of Don Draper know.  Furniture & Interiors of the 1960s takes a look at design techniques for the home.  The book covers some of the wackier designs that we associate with the sixties, like the use of plastic and sculpted foam with furniture.  The book also does a nice job covering the more mainstream styles of this era.  It also describes the rise of “cash and carry” retail stores, such as Ikea and Habitat.  Overall, the book gives a great visual overview of 1960s interior design.

Making a sweet throw pillow to go with your new marshmallow couch?  Check out the textiles of Marimekko.  The Finnish company’s large graphic prints are usually associated with fashion, but have seen popularity in the interior design field as well.  The book Marimekko: Fabrics Fashion Architecture takes a more scholarly approach to the company’s history and influence, and covers both fashion and interior design usage.

Members of the upper-crust  in the swinging 60s called David Hicks when their house needed a touch of style.  This famous interior designer loved to mix traditional and contemporary 1960s style.  David Hicks: A Life of Design, written by his son Ashley, details this British designer’s life.  Most of the pictures of rooms and apartments Hicks designed were taken shortly before the publication of the book — meaning his designs were so good that Hicks’ original design was preserved through the years.

Reference Check

One section of the library that often gets overlooked is the reference section. It really is the best-kept secret of the library. The reference books are so good, we keep them here so they’re always available. We simply couldn’t live without these books, and I bet once you starting looking around back there, you’ll feel the same way.
If you’re a fashion student, one of the coolest books you’ll ever use is The Denim Bible. It’s an encyclopedia of all things fashion denim, including brand names, trade techniques, and style trends. In addition, it includes entries for industry terms related to the manufacture of denim textiles and garments. If you’re working on a project related to sportswear and jeans, make this resource your first stop when beginning your research.

Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market is a valuable tool for artists looking for freelance jobs. The directory includes listings for galleries, magazine/book publishers, advertising agencies, even poster and greeting card companies! Entries provide contact information, a brief description of what the company is looking for, and how to submit your work for consideration. For the young creative professional, this book is a vital source of information when starting your career.

Interior design research often means wading through the myriad of design styles and variations. It can be frustrating trying to find a book that has both good background information and great pictures. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, take a look at The Abrams Guide to Period Styles for Interiors.  Not only does this guide do a good job at organizing styles and periods into easy-to-read units, it also provides beautiful full-color pictures for every style.

Encyclopaedia of Typefaces is just what the title implies — an encyclopedia of type.  This classic typography reference contains examples, descriptions, and the history behind hundreds of classic fonts. It also includes an index of important type designers. While this guide is a great guide for standard fonts, it does not include modern fonts that are products of the technology era. So while you’ll find Times New Roman in this book, you certainly won’t find Comic Sans in this book (thank goodness).

A common assignment for culinary students is to write a report about a fruit or vegetable.  Since there aren’t many books out there about the mighty kiwi, you may want to take a look at Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. This encyclopedia of produce has almost every fruit, vegetable and herb imaginable, including exotic items not usually found in the grocery store. Entries include the cultural history of the item as well as nutrition and common uses. Make your chef proud and use this book for your next report.


Art and Architecture, Detroit-Style

A fantastic National Geographic Traveler article about Detroit has been making the social media rounds this week.  The article tells of the city’s budding renaissance, while pointing out to the reader the many artistic and architectural jewels of the city.  If you haven’t read this article yet, then what are you waiting for?  If you have read the article and want to know more about our fair city, look no further than your AiMD library!

One thing the author stresses in his article is the incredible architectural heritage of Detroit.  For example, the article mentions Mies Van Der Rohe’s involvement in the creation of Lafayette Park, as well as the abundance of 1920s and Art Deco architecture.  The author also shares his first impression upon walking into the lobby of the famous Guardian Building.  You can go further than the lobby in the book The Guardian Building: Cathedral of Finance.  Discover even more about the history of Detroit’s architecture with American City: Detroit Architecture, 1845-2005.  If, after all this reading, you’re finally ready to get out and see these spectacular buildings yourself, bring along our copy of The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture.  It’s an invaluable field guide to the architectural gems of Detroit.

Speaking of old buildings, a controversial topic mentioned by the article is the current trend of so-called “ruin porn”.  Critics say that photographers visiting Detroit to capture images of abandoned buildings are exploiting a city that is already down on its luck.  Others say that these artists give us a realistic, albeit ghostly reminder of the city’s history while pushing people to think differently about these “ruins”.  Judge for yourself by checking out Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s book The Ruins of Detroit, or Andrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled.

A unique aspect of The Motor City that the article lightly touches on is its abundance of outdoor public art.  Since the winter weather has been so mild, why not treat yourself to a walking tour of Detroit’s more famous outdoor art?  Be sure to bring along Art in Detroit Public Places so you don’t miss a thing!  If you take the People Mover to get between some of your destinations, you can also see some of the works included in Art in the Stations: The Detroit People Mover.  Make sure you don’t miss one of Detroit’s most famous outdoor art installations, The Heidelberg Project.  Read more about the colorful history of this piece of Detroit’s cultural heritage in Connecting the Dots: Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project.

Feel like taking in some art indoors?  You can take your pick of art galleries in Detroit.  The article’s author observes that while “[Henry] Ford may have been a wealthy industrialist, he hired a Mexican Communist to paint his workers.”  The Mexican Communist in question was Diego Rivera, who forever memorialized Ford’s workers in his mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  For more information about this masterpiece, as well as behind-the-scenes photographs and stories, check out Linda Bank Downs’ book Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals. If you’re looking to get inspired by something a little more modern, take a look at the catalog from Rei Kawakubo’s exhibition at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit).  The exhibit, “ReFusing Fashion: Rei Kawakubo”, is an intriguing blend of fashion and art.  Both artists and fashion fans alike will enjoy reading about Kawakubo’s work, as well as the effort that went into creating this exhibit at one of Detroit’s most exciting galleries for contemporary art.

Cool Interior Design on a Not-So-Hot Budget

During college, students often find themselves living in small spaces on even smaller budgets, leaving little to no extra funds to put towards making your home look good.  What’s a person to do?  Well, fear not!  The library has several books and magazines on how to bring a ton of style into your house without using a ton of cash.

Tossed & Found is a book of DIY projects using old items found around the house, by the curb on garbage day, or even out in the woods.  The unorthodox projects include a deck chair made entirely out of pool noodles, a boombox rigged to play your iPod, and an end table made from an old basketball hoop.  Many of the projects do require the reader to be somewhat handy with tools or have a basic understanding of electrical wiring to actually make them.  Nevertheless, even if you have never picked up a hammer in your life, this book still serves as an excellent source of inspiration for creative design using minimum funds.

Another excellent source of creative (yet cheap!) DIY design projects is ReadyMade magazine.  This bimonthly magazine contains a wide range of design ideas and projects similar to the ones in Tossed and Found, but on a smaller scale.  The projects in ReadyMade are always rated in terms of difficulty and time commitment.  Check out this month’s issue, which features the top 100 projects as submitted by readers!

If your bare walls are screaming for a little color, take a look at DIY Art at Home.  This book gives readers easy yet hip projects to create their own artwork using common art supplies.  The projects are organized by room, including bedrooms, kid’s rooms, kitchens and home offices.  It includes a set of patterns and templates, but many of projects are flexible enough that a more experienced art student could tweak the project to their own designs and still come up with awesome results.  Also, most of the supplies needed are either inexpensive, or most likely, supplies that many students already have laying around at home.

As usual, all of these fabulous resources are available for checkout at the library.  So, channel your inner Martha Stewart (or whoever your favorite designer happens to be), check out one of these great resources, and get started!