Want to make the architect, designer, or aesthete in your life happy this holiday season? You can't go wrong with a book. The past year has brought a breadth of fantastic design tomes—from monolithic monographs and sumptuous coffee table books to fascinating histories and collections of quirky ephemera. Here are some that we wouldn't mind finding under the tree!
(Need more holiday inspiration? Check out our holiday gift guide for architecture students!)
For the Architect
100 Years of Architectural Drawing, 1900–2000, by Neil Bingham (Laurence King Publishing, $50)
This gorgeous volume comprises 300 gorgeous drawings from the past century by the world's most prestigious architects, offering a history of the genre as well as a survey of 20th century architecture.
Atelier Bow Wow: A Primer edited by Cornelia Escher, Megumi Komura, Laurent Stalder, and Meruro Washida (Walther König, Köln, $110)
This long-overdue English-language monograph delves into this groundbreaking Tokyo firm's 20+ years of work, featuring photographs as well as Bow Wow's much-heralded illustrations.
Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China by Bianca Bosker (University of Hawaii Press, $30)
A fascinating look at China's copycat architecture—which includes reconstructions of Paris's Eiffel Tower and Venice's Piazza San Marco (above)—and what it says about life in contemporary Mainland China.
Multiple Signatures: On Designers, Authors, Readers, and Users by Michael Rock (Rizzoli, $35)
Design firm 2x4's Michael Rock guides us through this melange of interviews, projects, and essays from such luminaries as Rem Koolhaas, Georgiana Stout, Iwan Baan, and SO-IL, giving us an exuberant, multi-faceted, and genre-busting exploration of contemporary visual culture. (See our review here.)
Kabbalah in Art and Architecture by Alexander Gorlin (Pointed Leaf Press, $60)
Architizer friend Alexander Gorlin draws on a diverse array of historical materials and images of contemporary art, sculpture, and architecture to trace Kabbalah's influence on design—such as Louis Kahn’s 1965 Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, pictured above. (Read an excerpt here.)
For the Aesthete
Wunderkammer by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien (Yale University Press, $25)
An homage to the wonder-rooms or cabinets of curiosities that first sprung up during the Renaissance, Wunderkammer presents a peek into the eccentric, weird minds of architects and the objects that inspire them. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have invited 35 architects and designers to create their own wunderkammers. The book includes contributions, with accompanying essays, by the likes of Toyo Ito, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, Richard Meier, Peter Zumthor, and more.
The Houses of Louis Kahn by George H. Marcus and William Whitaker (Yale University Press, $65)
Nine breathtaking homes by a modernist master—all sumptuously photographed. Enough said.
The Architect's Home by Gennaro Postiglione (Taschen, $39.99)
More than just eye candy, this book of the houses architects build for themselves offers a rare glimpse into the tastes, obsessions, and private lives of Le Corbusier, Gropius, and more.
F.C. Gundlach “Op Art” bathing suit by Sinz, Vouliagmeni/Greece, 1966 Gelatin-silver print, 50 x 50 cm F.C. Gundlach, Hamburg © F.C. Gundlach
Concrete: Photography and Architecture, by Daniela Janser, Thomas Seelig, Urs Stahel (Scheidegger and Spiess, $95)
This volume comprises more than 200 iconic images of urban architecture, from the invention of photography in the 19th century to today. With photos from the likes of Walker Evans, Germaine Krull, Stanley Kubrick, and more, Concrete explores the complex relationship between buildings and their photographic representations.
For the History Buff
Central Park NYC: An Architectural View by Bernd H. Dams and Andrew Zega (Rizzoli, $75)
This unprecedented volume on Central Park's spaces, buildings, sculpture, and follies includes not only historic photographs but also detailed watercolors by the authors. A monumental book for this most monumental of parks. (Read our article on the park's iconic Egyptian obelisk here.)
Never Built Los Angeles by Sam Subell and Greg Goldin (Metropolis Books, $55)
One hundred visionary ideas—including master plans, sci-fi buildings, and (gasp!) mass-transit—that present an intriguing alternative architectural history of the sprawling California city. (See our article here!)
Building Seagram by Phyllis Lambert (Yale University Press, $65)
The woman who commissioned Mies van der Rohe to construct the now-iconic Seagram Building (for her father), tells all in this insider's chronicle of the process. Juicy while retaining a scholarly rigor.
For the Kids
Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva (Harry N. Abrams, $16.95)
The Museum of Modern Art's first children's story book tells the adventures of Young Frank, who uses found materials like macaroni, old boxes, spoons, toilet paper rolls, and his dog, Eddie, to cobble together his own structures—much to the distress of his grandfather Old Frank, a more traditional architect. Yes, it is a blatant endorsement of MoMA's Architecture and Design department (the two take a trip to the museum and return home newly inspired, creating skyscrapers made of chocolate chip cookies), but it is adorable—from the concept to the duo's matching boater hats and Le Corbusier glasses.
Archidoodle by Stephen Bowkett (Lawrence King Publishing, $19.95)
More than just a coloring book, or an architecture primer, this volume of elegant black-and-white illustrations asks users to design their own skyscraper, dream up a Constructivist monument, and even plan an entire city, while encouraging them to find their own creative solutions to common design problems. For kids and adults, amateurs and professionals, alike.