Art historian and writer Lucy Spriggs is the owner of Ivanhoe Books—a Los Angeles-based bookshop specializing in new, rare, and out-of-print books about art and design. She also maintains Ivanhoe’s blog, where she presents selections from her amazing inventory of vintage titles and new arrivals. We asked Spriggs to share her unique eye for art and interiors books in a special list for our readers. Here are her picks:
Modern Furnishings for the Homeby William J. Hennessey (Acanthus Press, 1997)
First issued in 1952 but re-printed in the nineties, this book is a must-have for any mid-century furniture lover. Containing nearly 500 photographs that illustrate around 100 designers—including the work of notable figures such as Edward Wormley, Paul McCobb and Jens Risom—it’s an invaluable resource.
Italy: The New Domestic Landscape by Emilio Ambasz (Museum of Modern Art, 1972)
Released in conjunction with the MoMA exhibition of the same name, this book is a fantastic overview of Italian design in the 1960s and early 1970s. Several essays by Italian historians and critics but not overly wordy or dense, it is an appealing and accessible book. The cover design, which is a vellum cover with six or seven floating cutouts of objects from the exhibition, is one of my all time favorites!
The Fashion Makers by Barbra Walz (Random House, 1978)
I have a lot of vintage fashion titles, as this is probably my biggest selling genre. The Fashion Makers is undoubtedly one of my personal favorites. It profiles forty-nine American fashion designers in the 1970s, which is a wonderful way to see who has stood the test of time and who has ended up as a flash in the pan. Hilarious photo profiles accompany each designer. Standouts include: Edith Head, Bill Blass, and Lily Daché.
Flair Annual 1953 edited by Fleur Cowles (Random House)
I collect and sell vintage issues of Flair magazine. There were only twelve issues ever made (it folded after a year, in part due to massive production costs) and they are the most exquisite examples of a magazine. The first issue alone had Auden, Cocteau, Lucian Freud, and Tennessee Williams as contributors. This compendium is breathtaking and contains articles such as “The Great Paris Polygot,” “The Human Geography of Chile,” and “The Closed Garden of a Man’s Heart.” It’s a perfect overview of the magazine.
Wallflower by Deborah Turbeville (Simon Schuster, 1978)
Deborah Turbeville is an amazing photographer, and this is her seminal book from the 1970s. It’s ethereal and feminine with women in diaphanous gowns wandering about. Her most recent book Casa No Name, which came out earlier this year, is also lovely.
The Power Look At Home: Decorating for Men by Egon Von Fürstenberg (William Morrow and Company, 1980)
From the fly-leaf: “by Prince Egon Von Fürstenberg, an international authority on matters of taste and elegance.” If you want to become an authority on taste and elegance from the 1980s then this is the book for you! It offers a masculine perspective on interior design, amply illustrated with many color photographs of the bachelor pads of von Fürstenberg’s friends.
Billy Baldwin Remembers by Billy Baldwin (Harcourt Brace Jovanovih, 1974)
Described as a “resplendent memoir” this book really is the bees knees. It features twenty-one projects from Baldwin’s career, recounted in his own inimitable style.
Bonnettstown: A House in Ireland by Andrew Bush (Harry N. Abrams, 1989)
While hitchhiking across Ireland, photographer Andrew Bush got a ride from the owner of a dilapidated mansion. Returning to visit, he found the owner and three elderly aristocrats living in the mansion, and, before it was modernized by new owners, captured the decaying glamour and beauty of the place.
images from above: “Kar-A-Sutra” from Italy: The New Domestic Landscape; An interior from The Power Look at Home: Decorating for Men; a selection of covers from Flair magazine; Bonnesttstown interior by Andrew Bush.