Paris In ColorI love reading books that are beautifully designed.

‘Paris In Color’ by Nichole Robertson (Chronicle Books) This beautiful photo montage of scenes of everyday life in Paris by photographer, Robertson, is broken up into strikingly designed chapters by colour. The chapter ‘noir’ shows blackboard menus, ironwork and bicycle tyres, bleu; vespas and street signs, marron; freshly baked bread, wicker bike baskets, leather and cheese boxes, vert; garden trellises, clocks and park benches, orange; window boxes, awnings and stacks of fresh produce and blanc; fresh eggs, cheeses, and architectural details. Robertson speaks of the French concept of flanerie; to wander and admire with curiosity, pleasure and open eyes. The layout of the images gives your eye time to wander and reflect with enough white space and pacing of images. The collection of superbly composed photos compiled from her walks around Paris celebrates colour and the essence of Paris and reminds me of unexpected jewels of colour, design and life that I have so enjoyed in Paris. Really beautiful!

Read my interview with Nichole Robertson here.

Visit Nichole Robertson’s website here.

IMG_3209‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ illustrated by Michel Streich (Allen & Unwin) This compact book goes through the document of the right for nations and individuals to recognise, protect and promote basic human rights and freedom; I like to look at it from time to time to remember and reflect. It explains the history of The Declaration of Human Rights being adopted by the United Nations General assembly on 10th December, 1948 and how it has endured through world changes to encompass dignity, equality, fairness and universality. Streich’s black and red illustrations are joyous and whimsical which is quite a feat considering the weight of the subject! Each article of the document is illustrated with a poignant design which makes you stop and reflect on the point. Beautifully designed handshakes, footprints, keys, hands, parachutes and newborn birds are incorporated to emphasise points in a wonderfully poetic way.


Visit Michel Streich’s website here.

Read my interview with Michel Streich here.

AUDREY THE 60s by David Wills cover‘Audrey The 60s’ by David Wills and Stephen Schmidt (Harper Collins) My maternal grandmother was Audrey H. (that’s Audrey Hannah!) so the name Audrey has always been very special to me; indeed one of my daughters has the middle name Audrey and another daughter has the middle name Hannah. Ever since childhood I have loved the movie ‘My Fair Lady’, however it wasn’t really until I started my first full-time job that my boss really introduced to Audrey Hepburn’s other movies. My favourite Audrey Hepburn movie would have to be ‘How To Catch A Thief’ – fabulous, clever and crazy! This large coffee-table book is a beautiful compilation of Hepburn during the 1960s; each chapter is devoted to a movie of hers – full page photos (oh, what a luxury from my background in print!) of stills and candid images from movies produced in this decade. Great typeface, stunning use of images and gorgeous quotes. A pleasure to read! Thank you to my first full-time boss, Robert, for introducing me to the range of Audrey Hepburn movies.

Read my interview with David Wills here. Visit David Wills’ website here.

Read my interview with Stephen Schmidt here. Visit Stephen Schmidt’s website here.

IMG_3217‘The Tulip Anthology’ photographed by Ron Van Dongen (Hachette) Tulips are one of my all-time favourite flowers; their beautiful shapes and colours entrance me and this gorgeous over-sized book depicts them in all their glory. Photographer, Van Dongen, creates images of a wide variety of different species of tulips combining carefully chosen backgrounds to compliment the bloom and natural light to honour the light of the Dutch painters of the Golden Age until he feels he has captured each species’ ‘personality’. The result is a book of stunning, vibrant, larger-than-life images of tulips in their elegant, majestic forms interspersed with images of tulips that have inspired painters, ceramic artists and textile designers throughout history. The book refers to the madness of tulipomania in the 1630s and explores species with fabulous names such as ‘Those That Burn The Heart’, ‘Diamond’s Envy’, ‘Slim One of The Rose Garden’ ‘Flaming Parrot’, ‘The Lizard’ and ‘Angel’s Dream’. What’s not to like?

Visit Ron Van Dongen’s website here.

Read my interview with Ron Van Dongen here.

IMG_3207‘Ask Me’ by Antje Damm (Frances-Lincoln Books)  This book was displayed on the counter of a bookshop when I was buying other books and when I picked it up I just fell in love with it. On each of the 100+ colourful, double-page spreads is one of Damm’s illustrations, photo or image with an accompanying question such as ‘What would you change if you were the king or queen?’, ’Which story can you tell?’, ’What have your grandparents told you about their childhood?’, ‘What kind of house would you like to build for yourself?’ and ‘How did your parents choose your name?’ I have spent many times looking at and reading this book with each of my children and it is fascinating what their answers are and the discussion that these provoke. When I have revisited the book with them years later the answers are often different. I love this book for both adults and children and have given it to many people as a gift. Beautiful and thought-provoking.

IMG_3210‘Cristobal Balenciaga, Philippe Venet, Hubert de Givenchy; Grand Traditions Of French Couture’ by Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery (Rizolli) This stunning book is like a little jewel encased in its own slip-case; indeed the book was designed to be like a compact – a treasure to hold within a bag. The content of the book covers an exhibition of evening gowns by three couturiers, Balenciaga, Venet and de Givenchy, that was held at the Chateau of Haroue in Lorraine in France. Full-page images of details of dresses, brocades, satins and jewellery are carefully and lovingly teamed with beautifully rich images of the chateau’s architectural elements, ironwork, family portraits, vintage mirrors and velvet and silken wall linings to create a sumptuous book of images. The history of the designers and their work is woven amongst the images and the result is a breath-takingly beautiful experience. The presentation, content and story of this book make it a delight to read and savour. Pure joy! Apparently the Chateau de Haroue participates in an outdoor opera festival in September – can you imagine how beautiful that would be!

IMG_3215‘Kate Spade New York; Things We Love’ (Abrams Books) This fabulous and decadent book celebrates 20 years of the Kate Spade brand. I love the fun element of Kate Spade designs; the colour combinations and graphics are usually upbeat and quirky. My polka dot Kate Spade mobile phone cover and orange and hot pink bangle always bring a smile to my face. Each of the 20 chapters in this book is dedicated to a theme that the Kate Spade team love and are inspired by. We look at inspirations including the colour red, New York icons, humour, movies, typefaces, iconic photos and images, travel, flowers and books (they even have a book list that they love!) We see how these have inspired fabulous Kate Spade advertising campaigns, handbag, clothing, accessories and stationery design. The pages are boldly laid out and inspiring in themselves – a little bit like a big mood board of favourite things. To cap it all off, the edges of the book are tinted gold – love it!

IMG_3220‘Room For Children; Stylish Spaces for Sleep and Play’ by Susanna Salk (Rizzoli) This gorgeous book is filled with photos of beautiful interiors especially designed for children; from nurseries, to toddlers, young children, teenagers and young adults – bedrooms, studies and lounge areas. The use of bold, inspiring photos, texts and graphics throughout the book are a treat. It’s just pure eye candy – showing great ideas for incorporating artwork and illustrations into rooms for children, beautiful modern, ironwork or custom-made furniture, colour, graphics, mobiles and clever solutions for storage. I enjoyed the ideas for designing rooms that would work for the future as the child grows up, incorporating their own artwork and personalising their rooms whether their passions be music, art, reading or dance. The rooms cover a myriad of budgets and cultures creating a wonderful reference book. The results appeal to designers, kids and their parents alike. With a background in design and having styled hundreds of homes through my styling work I admire and appreciate the work and forethought that has gone into each of these rooms.

Visit Susanna Salk’s website here.

Read my interview with Susanna Salk here.

IMG_3221‘Chanel; Collections and Creations’ by Daniele Bott (Thames & Hudson) I have had a fascination with Chanel since I was at uni studying interior design and had to design a showroom in 1930s style. I researched Chanel and found such a fascinating woman who came from a very humble background who developed in to a woman who really analysed the way women needed to dress for the changing world they live in. For the project I designed a showroom that I though Chanel might inhabit and in the process gained a lifetime hero. From start to finish this beautiful book is packed with stunning images. The first time I opened the book it opened to a double-age spread of lipstick colours; I was hooked! My favourite lipstick is a Chanel colour. After an introduction about Chanel’s history, each chapter focuses on a theme; her iconic suits, camellia motif, jewellery in pearls, diamonds and precious jewels, defining fragrances and the concept of the black dress in all their glory. Thank you to my dear friend, Anna, who gave me this inspiring book for my birthday this year.

IMG_3222‘Inspire’ (kikki.K) My eldest daughter gave this book to me for my birthday last year and I just love it; thank you!  A compact book by that clever company, kikki.K, it is full of beautiful quotes and inspiring thoughts. I particularly love the use of calligraphy and artwork which is light and ethereal, yet poignant in content. I have a deep love and respect of hand writing and calligraphy; my mum and I completed a wonderful calligraphy course with Belinda and David many years ago which opened our eyes to beautiful handwriting in all its personal and quirky forms. I often think that to inspire someone is a very powerful thing indeed. To turn a light on or a switch is a very exciting ability. I have had many people who inspire me, sometimes just a very simple act has made a difference – such as a very close family friend who gave me a huge anthology of fairy tales one Christmas when I was very young; I was totally overwhelmed, but at the same time so immensely thrilled that she thought I would be able to read it that I did – I read it from cover to cover. My husband and children inspire me to be a better person every day. I enjoy dipping in to this beautiful book for inspiration. By the way, the jacket also folds out to be an inspiring poster; those clever Swedes!

Read more of my reviews of books about design and architecture here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Read more of my reviews of books about art here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Read more of my reviews of books about history here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Read more of my reviews of books about fashion and beauty here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Read more of my reviews of biographies here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Read more of my reviews of non-fiction books here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Read more of my reviews of children’s picture books hereherehere, here, here, here, here, here and here.

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