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4.4 out of 5 stars17
4.4 out of 5 stars
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I'm interested in the period and I would have said pretty well informed, but this gorgeous book was a revelation. Full of beautiful photographs, often from private homes, this book is wonderful to flick through as a (very classy) coffee table book, but offers much more of an insight into the important design trends and designers of the period. The author clearly loves his subject matter and his passion shows.

The book covers different geographical movements / emphases and considers overall design, looking at whole properties and rooms (including some you might recognise), but also focuses in on furniture, fabrics, objets d'art and kitchenware. It has a very good reference section at the back, with advice to those collecting / wanting to begin collecting - covering care as well as where to find the right stuff.

One nice thing to note - the author isn't snobbish about only having original (expensive!) pieces. He also looks at how such pieces can be combined with contemporary products and environments in such a way that a fresh, but 'respectful' or authentic modernistic setting can be created and enjoyed by anyone with an interest. I've enjoyed this book as an aesthetic piece and as a reference guide - having read around the topic, I feel confident in saying that this is the only book the average reader will need on domestic design in the 1950s.
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on 23 March 2014
A very comprehensive, and easy to understand book. Great information broken down into relevant categories, with wonderful photography. I would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in Mid Century design aesthetics.
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on 26 August 2009
I have a few books on mid century design and this is my favourite, featuring photos in room settings including a lot of photos from the period. It's a great overview of all aspects of interior design including ceramics and metalware, and focuses on interiors in Britain mainly, showing influences from the US and Scandinavia etc. I don't understand anything about design so the author going off on one (as another reviewer commented) didn't bother me really as all the design speak goes over my head anyway..

Lovely typeface used in the book too!
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on 21 November 2008
What I liked about this book: It is well organised and it has lots of well-chosen, well composed, colourful and clearly printed photographs..

If you want inspiration and ideas, the excellent photographs will give you what you are looking for. Only one picture contains a human figure - the others let you concentrate on the design and the furnishings, with no distracting sign of any occupants.

Where the book falls down....

I found the writing is very heavy going.

On the dustwrapper, it mentions "Bradley also completed a master's degree in History of Art at the University of London".

It seemed to me that the book reads like a master's degree dissertation in which the writer's aim is to show his professor that he has thoroughly mastered the subject - rather than a book aiming to inform and entertain a general reader interested in the subject.

I'd read a paragraph and think "that sounds impressive - but what does it mean?" Then I'd read it again more carefully. At a third reading, I'd give up, not knowing whether it meant something profound or whether it was impressive-sounding but essentially meaningless twaddle.

A typical paragraph:

"The new styles of furniture took centre stage with the distinctive shapes that continue to typify the look today. While mid-century furniture is often recognisable by its balance of form and function, its impact resulted from its ability to convey the dynamics of lived experience in static form. Mid-century designers regarded furniture as tactile art intended to cradle the human form. Although the use of new materials and techniques pioneered a change of direction for furniture - with moulded and glued plywood, and plastics reinforced by fibreglass, among the exciting developments - the forms continued to take shape in relation to the human body. Designers used furniture to articulate the tension between movement and stillness, which can never be separated from the human body. Consequently, 1950s furniture often expressed a body-consciousness unknown to other traditions."

"... the dynamics of lived experience in static form." Huh?

".. to articulate the tension between movement and stillness, which can never be separated from the human body". Does this actually mean something that can be expressed in simple words? Dunno. Beats me.

The text is not always linked to the pictures. Descriptions of stylish objects in text, without linked illustrations is hard to follow. As just one example:

"In Isamu Noguchi's hands abstract art became applied art, In one of his sculptures, wood and glass were moulded into an arrestingly curvaceous silhouette that caught the eye of George Nelson, who identified the shape of a table in its form. An American manufacturer shared Nelson's view and in 1944 collaborated with Noguchi to transform the design into a coffee table. Organic in style, Noguchi's Coffee Table was manufactured with two wooden legs that interlocked to form a tripod, which supported a plate-glass top 2cm (3/4in) thick. Both parts of the design were reversible: the tabletop could be placed upside down or back to front, while the mirror effect of the tripod's design enabled it to maintain the same profile even when turned upside down. Needless to say, Noguchi's considered balance of sculptural form, design innovation and durable function inspired other designers of the period to pursue abstract shapes."

On checking the index, I found that there is actually a photo, earlier in the book, in which a part of such a coffee table is visible.

I recommend this book for its masses of interesting, clear and well-composed and chosen pictures of mid-century design. If you are like me, you'll finish up skipping over the text and enjoying it simply for its illustrations, which I found inspiring and first class.
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on 22 April 2015
Lovely informative book on mid century design. Not only showcasing different styles but gives information about the entire history of mid century modern furniture. A great little book.
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on 14 March 2016
This book is well laid out and has beautiful photos, but it is not for the serious collector. Many photos had no house location or furniture designers name attributed. It is frustrating to be curious about a piece of furniture and the photo caption just gives a vague reference to it being mid century modern. I mean, isn't that obvious if it is in a book devoted to mid century style?
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on 11 August 2008
Wow, what a great book. The pictures are impressive and plentiful and the narrative is very informative regarding the era. I have many books on design and interiors and this is one of my fantastic finds! There really is no need to buy another book on this era as it is all here.
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on 3 January 2015
Interesting book giving some insight into various interiors relating to mod century design. But overall it's very basic and doesn't really help someone who wants to know what to collect etc and on,y a few designers were covered.
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on 8 February 2015
Quality book, at a great price. The only think I wasn't keen on was that there was too much on American and European styles and not enough British styles. I should have looked at the book first before buying it.
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on 6 January 2016
Daughter was very pleased to receive this. Looked a very interesting and informative read.
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