Books about new architecture and design that stretch the imagination
Spinning structures, China's dizzying new urban designs, mind-bending high-tech, and not-so-big apartments.
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Anyone remember that the English writer C.P. Snow called for an urgently needed reconciliation of scientific and artistic cultures over a half-century ago? Maybe so, given the fact that the two hit New York museum exhibits this year have been science and art hybrids. The Whitney's Buckminster Fuller show carries the heady scent of sixties nostalgia. This exhibition catalog from MOMA's high tech-art exhibit is less about the recent past than the techno-infused present and near future. Designs include a "Pierce 'n Brush," transforming jewelry for the tongue-pierced into a tooth brush; a bionic car inspired by a boxfish; and a solar-powered urban shelter translating citizen movement under its roof into music and light shows. Some designs, like the Interstitial Space Helmet, conceal a user's head. It offers in place of a human face a portable video monitor. It seems silly, if not inhuman. But the point of this groundbreaking show is to make our vision of daily life more elastic. It snappily succeeds. For an online exhibition of the show supplementing the exhibition catalog, go to www.moma.org/exhibitions/exhibitions.php?id=5632
25 APARTMENTS AND LOFTS UNDER 1,000 SQUARE FEET by James Grayson Trulove (Harper Design)
Here are lots of photos and floor plans for half the living space the average American family calls home. Note the numerous muted palettes, with touches of minimalist and Oriental styles. Within the category of sustainable lifestyle, interior design books, those ranging from the "Not So Big" tomes to the "living within 140 square feet" book (hint: you pay a yearly storage company fee for all the stuff that doesn't fit in your 140-square-foot domicile), I would rate Trulove's book as superior fare. Variations on the theme of subdued Eastern minimalism can sometimes fit a not-so-big budget. And muted wall colors do often make a 1,000-square-foot or less living space feel more intimately immense than trendy dark rose or royal purple. Small apartment decorating on a limited budget demands stretching your imagination – and Trulove's book enhances such imagining.