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New Book Tackles Postmodern Buildings and Architects' Toys

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This article is part of our Design Specials section on how looks, materials and even creators evolve.


Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted specified every detail, down to the rock texture, when designing the thousands of acres of 19th-century parkland. The coincidences of the times continue to improve his designs. “Ormstead Tree” (Hilmar/ University of Chicago Press, $40, 160 pages), by photographer Stanley Greenberg, celebrates barnacles, lizard skins, or bark that resembles chilled lava. Includes an essay by physician Mindy Thompson Fullilove.) The twisted trunk has humps and cavities reminiscent of human eyes and animal snouts, and the roots bulge out like giant feet. . knead the soil. Trees ignore traces of human intervention, dwarfing fences and playground equipment, and appear unfazed by carved lover’s initials.

“Miami 1980s: Vanishing Architecture in a Lost Paradise” (Walter Koenig/Distributed Art Publishers, $59.95, 184 pp.) It focuses on memorable but expendable postmodern buildings commissioned by newly minted billionaires. Architect and researcher Charlotte von Moos led a team of contributors (artist Max Creasy, architect Kersten Geers, and curator Niels Olsen) to create sea-white balustrades, magenta-and-yellow façades, and serrated We surveyed homes, offices, transportation hubs, and civic gathering places with profiles of Designers were as prominent as artists Isamu Noguchi and Architectonica, and while some buildings bore old-sounding names, they were nevertheless subject to negligent owners and abusive tropics. For example, Babylon, a beachfront apartment complex in Architectonica, was slammed with multiple ziggurat wings interlaced before it turned 40 years old.

A commonly used kit for creating miniature cityscapes is “Making Toys: An Architect’s Collection” (oro edition$45, per 245 people)Author John Locke, a California-based architect, has acquired American and European toys dating back to the mid-1800s with charming names such as Wonderwood and Brickplayer. (Mr Locke says he had notable predecessors in the collecting niche, including Norman Blasterman and George Wetzel, whose works now belong to museums.) The kit’s components include wood, Made of metal, artificial stone, cardboard and plastic. Some can be easily stacked and unloaded, while others require gloppy mortar or cumbersome interlocking mechanisms. Playthings form elaborately decorated chateaus, skyscrapers taller than most children, rustic cabins, chapels with golden finials, gas stations, bunkers, and intergalactic transportation hubs. The manufacturer worked with design luminaries such as Charles His Eames and Ray Eames, and made a profit on gritty side jobs such as the treads on tanks and the wrappers for his packs of cigarettes.

“African Textiles” (Abbeville$150, 448 people) A fascinating piece of continental exploration of the possibilities of silk, cotton, wool, raffia and bark cloth. The team of authors (Duncan Clarke, Vanessa Drake Moraga, Sarah Fee, MabatNgoup Ly Dumas) examined institutional and private collections for fabrics that have been used for clothing, ceremonial and domestic purposes for thousands of years. . Invaders, slave traders, merchants and tourists influenced trends in motifs, techniques and materials, bringing in European beads and Indian silk, textiles inscribed with colonial inscriptions such as “Vive la France”. created a market for There are many unknowns in this understudied area, but the book shows, for example, how the Zambians revived their barkcloth tradition, and how the exiled Ethiopian queen’s chevron embroidered dress was brought to London’s Victoria and It gives insight into things like what was in the Albert Museum.

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