Interesting and inspiring design books make up this months new release list. Books on symbols, a historic midcentury modern home, European landscape parks and memorials, land art projects, book covers, designers and more are all subjects explored in books set to release this November.

“Symbols: A Handbook for Seeing”

Symbols: A Handbook for Seeing

A new pictorial reference book for artists and designers, with over 400 images from sources ranging from Greco-Roman art to Benjamin Franklin to Wes Anderson—“Symbols” offers a fresh approach to understanding symbolism in the visual arts. Symbols are embedded everywhere in our global visual culture, from oil paintings to packaging, monuments to mass-produced products.

Designers and California College of the Arts instructors Mark Fox and Angie Wang recognize sources both historical and contemporary, high and low, revealing the narrative riches of symbolism found in a range of media and across times, places, and cultures. Whether human or animate, natural or man-made—each symbol is illustrated with both classical and archetypal examples.

BASIC FACTS: “Symbols: A Handbook for Seeing” is written by Mark Fox (Author) and Angie Wang (Author). Published by The Monacelli Press. Release Date: November 8, 2016. Paperback; 256 pages; $40.00.

“Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece”

Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece

With its pastel green and yellow interior, its collection of Impressionist paintings, and long, low sofas, Sunnylands was a Versailles for the Space Age. In Palm Springs, the mecca of midcentury modern architecture, this preserved estate is considered the undisputed masterpiece, envisioned by A. Quincy Jones, one of California’s most important architects, and furnished by California’s decorator-to-the-stars, William Haines. Built by media moguls, art collectors, and diplomats Walter and Leonore Annenberg, Sunnylands became a seat of power where politicians, movie stars, and corporate leaders could meet, relax, reflect and make deals. 

BASIC FACTS: “Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece” is written by Janice Lyle (Author), Mark Davidson (Photographer) and Michael S. Smith (Foreword). Published by Vendome Press. Release Date: November 15, 2016. Hardcover; 240 pages; $60.00.

“Rust Red: The Landscape Park Duisburg-Nord”

Rust Red: The Landscape Park Duisburg-Nord

A former coal and steel production plant in Duisburg, Germany, the Meiderich Ironworks left the area around it significantly polluted when it was abandoned in 1985. In 1991, Peter Latz’s firm was commissioned to design a public park on the site, but rather than turning the area into a classical garden with beautifying agricultural and forest patterns, Latz embraced the site’s industrial past, retaining many of its structures. Today the Landscape Park Duisburg Nord is one of the world’s most remarkable examples of dealing with the complex legacy of industry.

In “Rust Red,” Latz uses his firsthand knowledge of the project to present an in-depth account of the park’s development. Recounting twelve years of planning and realization, Latz describes how he focused on the multifaceted information system of urban infrastructure and industry to create the park. Essays by collaborators complement his narrative, while three hundred color photographs, sketches, and plans provide additional insight. “Rust Red” tells the story of the park’s transformation on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary.

BASIC FACTS: “Rust Red: The Landscape Park Duisburg-Nord” is written by Peter Latz. Published by Hirmer Publishers. Release Date: November 15, 2016. Hardcover; 208 pages; $49.95.

“Powering Places: Land Art Generator Initiative, Santa Monica”

Powering Places: Land Art Generator Initiative, Santa Monica

This book explores the possibilities of reimagining the Santa Monica Pier as an interactive public artwork that generates clean electricity and drinking water. Visit the historic Santa Monica Pier at low tide and across the water you’ll see the eroded remnants of a decades-old breakwater sea wall peeking up through the waves. Once a protective barrier for a lost marina, it’s now the site of the fourth Land Art Generator Initiative design competition.

Entrants were challenged to create a piece of civic art that also acts as sustainable and renewable energy infrastructure for the city of Santa Monica, California. “Powering Places” includes renderings, illustrations, diagrams, and essays. The result is a sampling of innovative and artistic solutions that employ the latest wave, tidal, wind, and solar technologies.

BASIC FACTS: “Powering Places: Land Art Generator Initiative, Santa Monica” is written by Elizabeth Monoian (Editor) and Robert Ferry (Editor). Published by Prestel. Release Date: November 18, 2016. Hardcover; 240 pages; $49.95.

“Louise Bourgeois and Peter Zumthor: Steilneset Memorial: To the Victims of the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials”

Louise Bourgeois and Peter Zumthor: Steilneset Memorial: To the Victims of the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials

This book documents a unique collaboration between the artist Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) and the architect Peter Zumthor (born 1973). The Steilneset Memorial, opened in 2011, is a monument in Vardø, Norway, commemorating the 17th-century trial and execution of 91 women for witchcraft.

The brainchild of the National Tourist Routes project in Norway (a government-sponsored initiative which aims to attract visitors to remote but exceptionally beautiful locations), the Steilneset Memorial started out as a modest monument to honor the victims of the witchcraft trials, to be built on the site where the burnings originally took place. But the project, which would be Bourgeois’ last major work, grew in the hands of Zumthor and Bourgeois into two distinct, haunting structures.

BASIC FACTS: “Louise Bourgeois and Peter Zumthor: Steilneset Memorial: To the Victims of the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials” is written by Louise Bourgeois (Artist), Peter Zumthor (Artist), Jan Andresen (Foreword), Svein Ronning (Contributor) and Mari Lending (Contributor). Published by Forlaget Press. Release Date: November 22, 2016. Hardcover; 160 pages; $45.00.

“Designing Modernism: New Directions at 80”

Designing Modernism: New Directions at 80

James Laughlin founded the independent publisher New Directions in 1936. Just five years later, Alvin Lustig designed his first jacket for the press, a cover for the 1941 edition of Henry Miller’s Wisdom of the Heart. Lustig worked with New Directions Publishing from 1941 to 1952, and each cover was different from the last. In many ways, Lustig’s designs helped New Directions establish its visual and literary identity: modern, distinctive, bold, cutting edge. The collaboration between Alvin Lustig and New Directions Publishing is now the stuff of design legend. But Lustig is just one giant in a storied history full of them: Andy Warhol, for example, designed covers for New Directions before he was famous, as did Ray Johnson, Milton Glaser and others.

Edited by J.C. Gabel with New Directions Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Barbara Epler, this book surveys the publishing house’s history of bringing together groundbreaking literary modernism with indelible, iconic art and design. “Designing Modernism” also includes the reflections of more than 40 working designers from around the world discussing their favorite New Directions covers of all time, proving the continued influence of these formal experiments more than half a century later.

BASIC FACTS: “Designing Modernism: New Directions at 80” is written by J.C. Gabel (Editor), Barbara Epler (Editor) and Steven Heller (Foreword). Published by Hat & Beard Press. Release Date: November 22, 2016. Hardcover; 220 pages; $50.00.

“Allan Wexler: Absurd Thinking – Between Art and Design”

Allan Wexler: Absurd Thinking – Between Art and Design

This book features projects, developed during the artist Allan Wexler’s forty-year career, which mediate the gap between fine and applied art using the mediums of architecture, sculpture, photography, painting, and drawing. His production can be broadly described as tactile poetry composed by re-framing the ordinary with the intention of sustaining a narrative about landscape, nature, and the built environment that highlights the characteristics latent in the elements and rituals that pervade daily life.

Wexler’s work demonstrates a commitment to re-evaluating basic assumptions about our relationship to the built and natural environments. This publication is an illustrated cross section of Wexler’s multi-scale, multi-media work featuring his own writings, narratives and reflections, and contributions by various experts.

BASIC FACTS: “Allan Wexler: Absurd Thinking – Between Art and Design” is written by Ashley Simone (Editor). Published by Lars Müller. Release Date: November 25, 2016. Hardcover; 296 pages; $50.00.


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