No journey plans? Strive three new books in regards to the nexus of journey and design.
Three visually rich books offer a design-driven journey into our currently constrained world. The trio of volumes invites frustrated travelers to stack volumes on the coffee table, sit down on the sofa, and turn the pages of our planet.
A Wes Anderson world
Travel is cinematic, a film set in which we play scenes that are populated by strangers. But the coronavirus called “Cut” for our personal productions, which makes “Accidentally Wes Anderson” (Little Brown, 368 p., 35 US dollars) by Wally Koval all the more attractive.
The playful book, an extension of a popular Instagram account of the same name, shows 200 locations in 50 countries with images from 180 contributing photographers, reflecting the typical style of film director Wes Anderson. The pages of the book will be familiar to fans of Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and other pleasantly quirky films.
“Accidentally” provides the theatrical whimsy we need now when traveling (not to mention going to the movies) is mostly a dream.
When life seems agitated, the pleasant symmetry of the Anderson-style imagery offers a calming sense of control. However, this is much more than a picture book. Each photo is accompanied by a detailed and sometimes esoteric context, such as the keeping of the clocks and the Queen’s shoes running in at Buckingham Palace, the inspiration for George Gershwin’s “Summertime” lyrics, and a link between Fred “Mister” Rogers and the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.
The writing is often as light-hearted and full of lore as photos of vintage swimming pools, sherbet-colored bungalows, and a faded coral-pink lighthouse on an uninhabited island. Koval says visitors to Moritzburg Castle in Saxony will get away with a lifelong profusion of colossal antlers. And he compares the tiles on a church roof in Budapest with the pattern of a lanyard from the summer camp. Given the on-screen inspiration of the book, it is appropriate that James Bond and R2-D2 deserve mentions.
Pictures of grand buildings mix with places of humble appeal, including a small blue boat shed, the most photographed place in Perth, Australia; A sand-covered city in Namibia and a polished train station with no trains.
The world, especially off the beaten path, offers a script-worthy narrative. There is the story of a river of burning whiskey in Dublin being extinguished by horse manure and a ghost village above the Arctic Circle, only accessible by sea or snowmobile, where the world’s northernmost basketball court is free of play.
Of course, too many places are currently free of play. But “by mistake” reminds us that everything out there is ready to bring joy, perhaps in the form of an idiosyncratic surprise, like the picture of a Croatian pancake hut waiting right over the next hill.
The aesthetic point of view
“Travel by Design” (Assouline, 280 pages, US $ 95) is an extensive hardcover with an atlas of more than 350 images by architects, designers and makers. On the bright yellow-silver cover there are photographs with more than 100 locations in 60 countries.
The photos are accompanied by observations from the aesthetically astute contributors who are members of the Design Leadership Network.
Your visual acuity provides a tour that is tailored to the shape, color, and pattern. Terraced gardens and rice fields in Vietnam, for example, “create incredible geometric patterns”. An Irish landscape is “any shade of green”. Hotel beds at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee are “like cupcakes.” In Denmark, “farmland views, thatched-roof buildings and white-painted brick churches exude a refined, minimalist charm with architectural purity.”
The photos cover much of the world, with locations such as Morocco, Spain, Dubai, and the United States.
Landscape architect John Howard notes that while Copenhagen is an old city, it “has some of the best modern architecture in Europe”. He cites several notable structures, including the Black Diamond Royal Library and the Copenhagen Opera House.
The architect Thomas A. Kligerman puts his finger on the elusive attraction of ruins and says that they stimulate the imagination in a number of ways. The architect, he says, “completes it. The historian imagines the people who have gone through it. “
Interior designer Suzanne Tucker notes: “The Scottish architecture is fantastic – a little quirkier than the all-English Georgian, but very grand, very inhabited and with a hospitality that reflects her unique Scottish origins.”
While “design” is about aesthetics, the index on the last pages of the book includes tips for travelers such as: For example, where to find embroidered bed linen or Japanese lacquerware or an antique shop that reproduces old door knockers. Cultured flavors include taste buds too, and the directory has information on where to find a street chef grilling sardines in Lisbon or the perfect gin and tonic in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In keeping with the theme of the book, the guide provides a powerful assessment of physical space.
Architect Barry Goralnick describes the sensory appeal of the Aiken Rhett House in Charleston, SC. Because it has been “preserved rather than restored,” it “exudes a faded glamor that is eerie and poetic”.
Bring the globe home
Travel promotes creativity. With the wings cut off, we can focus on our own interiors.
In “Travel Home: Design with a Global Spirit” (Abrams, 288 pp., 40 US dollars), mother-daughter authors Julie Goebel and Caitlin Flemming show 20 globetrotters whose homes reflect the places they have been to.
Flemming is an interior designer and stylist. Goebel founded the Travelers Conservation Foundation. You have traveled well too. In their introduction they write: “We don’t know of a time when travel was not the friend who influenced, shocked and changed us for the better.”
They continue, “Seeing the world with your eyes open can be thousands of miles from your home or just a few blocks.”
On the following pages, “Travel Home” examines the interface between travel and furnishing style, how seeing new places colors our mind’s eye.
Includes questions and answers about the design-minded travelers, revealing which places influenced them, where they would like to go next (whenever possible), favorite hotels and preferred souvenirs.
The decor in the featured interiors reflects Paris, Tokyo, Portugal, Mexico City and other locations. Also included is a look at what the style-conscious frequent flyers pack and carry during transport.
But it’s what they bring home – in the form of inspiration and objects – that fills the pages. The houses are structured, with tiles from Portugal, baskets from Mexico, textiles from India and even color combinations that you may have noted on a wooden door or a stucco wall.
Not surprisingly, textile designer John Robshaw collects textiles. This includes handkerchiefs, he says, because “they always look eccentric and unique in the country.”
Kendra Smoot, stylist and art director, says the whitewashed walls, beams, and floors in her California home were influenced by trips to Greece and Scandinavia.
Like most tourists, the featured travelers collect matchboxes, shells and stones. Spices are the souvenir of choice for Vicente Wolf, the Cuba-born interior designer from New York. Wolf’s Montauk, NY weekend home is spiced with furniture and accents from his travels. The pieces include a cabinet from Sri Lanka and a Buddha from Myanmar, both from the 19th century.
The design-minded travelers give tips on how to find high quality local goods. For your favorite shopping options, see the last few pages, which in a section of the Little Black Book lists flea markets, bazaars, and other resources from Istanbul to Seattle.
Pieces of places visited become postcards in themselves.
Peggy Wong, who photographed the book, says she collects examples of typography, including postcards, while she travels.
Like the stamped and mailed versions, she says, they serve “as nice reminders of when to plan my next adventure”.