Furniture has a profound impact on our day-to-day lives without us realizing it. It becomes a reflection of the user. At times, it forms the defining character of the space it inhabits. After all, no home is complete without furniture. With tremendous advancement in design and technology, the escalation in the variety of products is overwhelming. Traditional design has evolved along with the change in fashion fads.
Contemporary furniture design, however, rests on the balance of aesthetic and functionality. Today, it becomes a challenging task for one to choose the furniture that would demonstrate his style and choice to the rest of the world! Subsequently, several books on furniture design have put forth their outlook on the industry.
Ten of the must-read books for design enthusiasts are as follows.
1. Atlas of Furniture Design – Vitra Design Museum
As the name suggests, the Atlas of furniture design is the most voluminous book ever written on the subject. It gives a thorough overview of the history with documentation of 1740 pieces by 546 designers. The furniture collection at the Vitra Design Museum forms the basis for the book. It holds over 7000 works by the most significant designers and manufacturers from the last two centuries. It showcases the early furniture from the period of the industrial revolution, followed by objects from the Art Nouveau and Classical Modernism era.
The works by prominent figures in design like Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen, Charlotte Perriand, Konstantin Grcic, George Nelson, and so on find their place in the Atlas of Furniture Design. The making of it took 71 authors and their compilation of socio-cultural and historical context to furniture design. The book acts as an encyclopedia and, at the same time, a beautifully designed object for design enthusiasts from around the world.
2. Design for Children – Kimberlie Birks, Lora Appleton
One often thinks about eye-catching designs from the perspective of a child. Design for Children is a comprehensive survey of children’s products and furniture design. It highlights over 450 creative examples that are bespoke for toddlers, babies, and kids. These include a vast selection of toys, furniture, tableware, textile, lights, and vehicles.
The book successfully keeps design young at heart while catering to a large segment of the furniture market. At the same time, it excites design-conscious parents who look forward to instilling creativity within their children right from a young age. It is also bound to remind one of the joys of childhood, with toys documented from over nearly a century ago.
The works of many contemporary designers like Kengo Kuma, Marcel Wanders, and Philippe Starck find their place in the book. While the market undergoes a global explosion, the evolution of craftsmanship showcases the exceptional innovation in furniture through Design for Children.
3. How Design Makes the World – Scott Berkun
Design plays a principal role in our lives, and so do the designers. Our surroundings have immeasurable instances of design within them. Some were right, yet many failed to deliver to the user. The book by designer Scott Berkun offers a new way to think about the world. He makes a compelling case for the importance of design.
Through several notable examples, the book highlights the significance of incorporating a user-centric approach to design. It focuses on human behavior, motivation, and perception over designing something that looks good. Rather than a compilation, the book acts as a synthesis. The gained knowledge and experience add to the ideas for the future. It makes the book an ideal explanation of the broader context of design.
4. 1000 Chairs – Peter Fiell and Charlotte Fiell
A chair is one of the most common pieces of furniture. At the same time, it is also one that comes in a whopping variety. 1000 Chairs, the book by Peter and Charlotte Fiell, gives the readers food for thought. They can see that the chair has undergone tremendous transitions with each era while its central function remains the same. Designers have translated their wildest dreams into the world of furniture.
The book contains references from Art Nouveau, International Style, Pop Art, and the Postmodernism era to account for two centuries worth of chair design. It features around 400 designers including Alvar Aalto, Gerrit Rietveld, Marcel Breuer, and Hoffman. Therefore, 1000 Chairs has become a must-read for all furniture design enthusiasts as it describes the entire life and timeline of chair design paradigms.
5. More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture – Robert W. Lang
More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture includes construction drawings for 30 pieces of household furniture by Gustav Stickley and his contemporaries. It represents a clear picture of the craftsman’s style. The shop drawings give a complete set of information that a woodworker would need to reproduce the products in his workshop.
In addition to construction drawings, detailed lumber lists and clear pictures showcasing the assembly serve as a great addition to the library for the enthusiastic craftsman. With sufficient knowledge of woodworking and drafting, the well-explained methods make it easy for readers to try their hand at craftsmanship.
6. Furniture Design – An Introduction to Development, Material, and Manufacturing – Stuart Lawson
Furniture Design – An Introduction to Development, Materials, and Manufacturing is an encyclopedic resource for students and furniture designers alike. It gives an insight into the vast industry of product and industrial design. The book covers all aspects of furniture design and responds to questions about functionality, materiality, sustainability, etc.
Moreover, it features case studies that highlight the importance of material and manufacturer-led design processes. In addition, the compilation of pioneering historical and contemporary pieces of furniture design make-up for a well-structured volume on the subject. The decision-making process behind the design makes it a must-read even for amateurs with a flair for creativity.
7. The Rise of Everyday Design – Monica Penick, Christopher Long, Eric Anderson, Samuel Dodd, Carma Gorman
The Rise of Everyday Design delves deep into the Arts and Crafts Movement. It discusses the journey from its origins, its engagement with commercial mass production, and finally, its place in household products. Each chapter highlights the growing interest of users in design, and the subsequent growth of the market for furniture design.
Engaging illustrations and well-written descriptions showcase the imminent furniture collections. Stunning pieces by Gustav Stickley and William Morris, among others, are eye-catching. However, the book does not only act as a conventional catalog. It gives a deep insight into the evolution of crafts in the 20th century by beautifully translating the idea of arts and crafts into everyday design!
8. History of Modern Furniture Design – Daniela Karasova
History of Modern Furniture Design finds its base in Czechoslovakia and the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands regions. However, it gives an overview of the history against the backdrop of imminent developments in furniture design globally. It covers the story from the start of the nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. Furniture manufacturers and institutions, along with prominent artists-designers provide the source for inspiration.
Furthermore, it includes the different types of upcoming materials and technological aspects that affect furniture design. The book acts as a supreme guide with historical perspectives to the subject for aspiring students and researchers in the field alike.
9. Furnitecture: Furniture that Transforms Space – Anna Yudina
Furnitecture explored the meeting point between furniture and architecture. The book outlines the emerging trends of fusion, where designers envision furniture through an architectural style. The so-called micro-architecture is known to have transformative effects on modern interior design and dynamic spaces. The author, Anna Yudina, has experience curating design exhibitions that gave her the lens to write the book.
With exemplary case studies of innovative products, the book boasts the theme of newer possibilities in design and manufacturing. In addition, it highlights the importance of architectural awareness to create better interior environments. Furnitecture stimulates every creative cell in the reader’s mind while acting as a source of inspiration for new-age designers.
10. Knoll: A Modernist Universe – Brian Lutz
Knoll, founded by Hans Knoll and Florence Knoll, brought modern design from Europe to America. It later became one of the most prestigious high-end furniture brands. Hence, the history of the company forms the basis for the history of modern design. They can be credited for numerous iconic pieces of furniture. On the one hand, it produced tubular furniture by Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer. Years later, Knoll also commissioned classics by Eero Saarinen, Frank Gehry, and Richard Meier.
The book is a promising narrative of the brand’s journey that describes the evolution of furniture design. It furthermore gives a unique insight into the modern world and the various factors and global events that impacted it. It features excellent photographic, textual, and graphical details. Knoll is a must-read for enthusiasts of modern furniture and exquisite interior design.