As the mercury drops, we’re sitting down to appreciate the wondrous world of architecture and design in these recent books.
Gio Ponti XL Edition, By Salvatore Licitra, Taschen
Prolific and tapered are two words people often associate with the work of Italian architect and industrial designer Gio Ponti, whose oeuvre spanned everything from furniture and lighting through to huge churches and commercial buildings.
Internationally, Ponti is best known for his Cassina lounge chair and similar timeless furniture designs that echo an era of Italian modernism with a hint of art deco and space exploration — all, of course, with an Italian flair for chic.
This book is possibly the most extensive compilation of Ponti’s work, and is accompanied by archive images of most of his large architectural commissions through to interior design, and from his graphic design and his publishing endeavours through to the furniture he created. It is a fairly concise history of Ponti’s incredibly diverse, six-decade oeuvre alongside thoughtful essays on his biography and work.
At 570-something pages, close to 6kgs, and 36cms (square) this book is a fine addition to Taschen’s XL format.
The Commercial Hotel, By John Summers, Victoria University Press
A collection of observational essays and small snippets of everyday life in New Zealand, in a sense the book is a good example of how cities and small towns are defined by the people who inhabit them. From explorations of local characters and landmarks — the local meatworks will never look the same after you’ve read this book — through to fairly personal explorations of family relationships, these vignettes eschew large ‘themes’, conclusions, or political statements, opting instead for being a gentle photograph of New Zealand in its current state and time.
In fact, The Commercial Hotel is so steeped in Kiwiana you can almost smell the gib board and feel the off-the-shelf linoleum underfoot — and it feels surprisingly comfortable.