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Monday, February 7, 2011

Required reading

Several books, both old and new, have made it onto my "Required Reading" list as I search for information about all things mid-century. Some I've had for years, and I still refer to them frequently. Some are recent acquisitions that I'm sure will be just as helpful. The ones I couldn't do without include:
  • Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s by Cara Greenberg - This book, written by the person credited with coining the term "mid-century modern" in 1984, has proven to be one of the most valuable books I have.
  • Collector's Encyclopedia of Russel Wright by Ann Kerr - This is the final word on Russel Wright. Ann Kerr is my hero. We ran across an autographed copy last year but sold it in our booth, and I've regretted it ever since.
  • Guide to Easier Living by Mary and Russel Wright - First published in 1950, this book gives a priceless look into the mid-century concept of informal living.
  • Modern Retro: Living with Mid-Century Modern Style by Neil Bingham & Andrew Weaving - I carry the pocket edition around in my purse!
  • Modern Retro Table Style by Madeleine Marsh - Containing some of the most beautiful pictures of mid-century tableware I've ever seen, this book has something new for me every time I look through it. Today I was surprised to find several pages on Midwinter tea sets, which I'd never noticed before.
  • Retro Modern by Lisa Skolnik - The author of this book captures the architecture, the unique room design and what she calls "prime pieces" of mid-century furnishings.
  • Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes by Michelle Gringeri-Brown and Jim Brown - I love the magazine. I love the book.
Other books I never tire of looking through are Forgotten Modern: California Houses 1940-1970 by Alan Hess and Alan Weintraub, Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House by Daniel P. Gregory. Since the price has come down from $200 to $125 since Christmas, I'm hopeful that I'll eventually be able to afford a copy of the Marilyn Neuhart 2-volume book The Story of Eames Furniture.

My latest purchase was The G-Plan Revolution: A Celebration of British Popular Furniture of the 1950s and 1960s by Basil Hyman and Steven Braggs. You may be quite familiar with the other books I mentioned, but I'll share this one with you, since it might not be on your shelves yet. (I bought it because we purchased several pieces of G-Plan, Nathan and Remploy furniture not long ago, and I wanted to become more familiar with British mid-century furniture before talking to customers about it.)

An unusual book inside and out, it's a hardcover edition which has been hole-punched as if to fit into a binder. On the inside are excellent reproductions of primary sources. Instead of simply including photos from all the brochures they found while researching G-Plan furniture, they actually reproduced several of the old brochures and bound them into the book. The illustrations, for the most part, are scanned straight from magazines and newspaper ads, making the reader feel as though he's thumbing through the original pages. The format is fun, and the information is excellent. I love this book! Take a look.

I'll post more about G-Plan in a few days, and eventually we'll photograph all the furniture we've bought recently, so I'll be able to post about it too. I know some of you are still waiting for that one, since I inadvertently published an unfinished post about it that I had to pull.


  1. Last time I strolled through my local Barnes and Noble, I was surprised at the lack of 50's interior design books. I mean, you could find dozens of "shabby chic" books, but only a few on particular 50's designers, all things I could never afford anyway lol...

  2. @1950sarh: I've bought most of my books from and or on eBay. My area bookstores don't carry as large a selection of mid-century books as I'd like either.

  3. Hmmm, a much better selection I imagine. =)

  4. Aha! The secret to your vast and impressive knowledge revealed.

  5. @Tanya: I confess that I'm a bibliophile and have to have "real" books around, even though I love the way my computer and my Kindle put information at my fingertips in an instant. I'm kind of a research fanatic, I think. :)

  6. Wow, look at your collection! I have many MCM books on my wish list but never seem to splurge for them. I'm going to re-visit your list here and start with those!