Reading list: Our new favourite books

Here are the latest titles we’re coveting for our bookshelves. Design tomes to devour and display in equal measure.



Out of the Woods (Gestalten, $87)
Like #cabinporn on steroids, this gorgeous book profiles building after building made mostly out of timber. In the foreword by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen of Copenhagen’s Norm Architecture, wood is poetically described as “patient and adaptable”, possessing “narratives of what has endured long before us”. Certainly, trees have had a life of their own before we offer them a second one keeping us warm and dry, and timber has been used in construction for eons. It’s a primitive resource, yet new tech and the rise of our collective urge to get back to nature has seen it re-emerge as the material of the moment. Beyond the aesthetic appeal of those on-trend cabins, though, the applications of timber are limitless, and the structures seen here — studios to high-rises, dwellings curved and straight as boards, homes on the beach and tropical retreats — provide proof of its inventive potential. 

MAIN IMAGE Japanese cypress is the dominant material in this Kyoto home by 07Beach. Photography by Yosuke Ohtake. ABOVE This once-dilapidated duplex in Montreal was revived by La Shed, who clad the rear in eastern white cedar. Photography by Maxime Brouillet.

The wellbeing benefits of timber’s use are also plain to see in this read’s calming imagery, and are further explored in a chapter that questions whether it can heal and ease people’s pain. With regard to the health of the planet, Vancouver architect Michael Green reminds us that “The building industry is responsible for 40% of global climate emissions… so why are we only talking about cars?” — suggesting that the use of ethically harvested timber has a part to play in reaching our sustainability objectives. Yep, that wood — it’s good.


More Than Just a House by Alex Eagle (Rizzoli, $140)
What started with childhood hoardings of thimbles and stamps turned into a career as a collector for arbiter of taste Alex, who today sells all sorts in her London boutique and uses her home as a testing ground for her curious finds. For this project, she set out to collect stories by visiting high-profile creative mates around the globe to ask how they make their own havens so special.

A Century of Colour in Design by David Harrison (Thames & Hudson, $45)
He of the famous chairs, Verner Panton, reckoned he sat more comfortably on colours he liked. Whether or not that’s true for you, there’s certainly something in the use of colour at home that can be a kick in the pants, and these pages might encourage you to have fun using it to brighten your days. A whopping 250 pieces are profiled here, some of which are icons you’ll recognise and some that are on the path to becoming them. 

Mr Bawa I Presume by Giovanna Silva (Thames & Hudson, $90)
The work of Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa has long been revered in the Asian region, but this book brings some of the lauded buildings he designed in his signature tropical modernist style to the rest of the world. The visionary talent was an early proponent of green architecture, so many of photographer Giovanna’s images depict how he let nature call the shots in the way that’s such a thing right now.

Words Philippa Prentice

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