Friday, December 07, 2007

Bold Bindings



There has been much discussion in the past about the best (and the most aesthetically pleasing) way to display books. Many of us also struggle with creating systems for storing our design magazines. Last night, I found this image in the December issue of World of Interiors, and the array of brightly colored book bindings caught my eye. I immediately thought of those leather bound copies of Webster's Dictionary (seen in the Kate Spade Fall ads) which are so popular right now.

The "books" in the library above are actually bound issues of Condé Nast magazines, which makes perfect sense as the homeowner is Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Condé Nast. Issues of World of Interiors are bound in bright yellow buckram, Tatler in orange, Vogue in red, GQ in blue, and House & Garden in green. Don't they look wonderful?


Leather bound Webster's Dictionaries from Graphic Image



Photograph at top by Simon Upton, Dec. World of Interiors

27 comments:

  1. I love how book bindings, in general, provide color and graphics for a room. This is an especially clever way to control the look you want. Very cool.

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  2. I'm jealous! They do look great!

    I do find it interesting how stylists use or abuse books. The current issue of O at Home has the bindings painted white! Worse yet, the the type and binding colors bled through!

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  3. Brilliant- Yes, that is a very good point!

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  4. Mister- I have to say I've never seen painted bindings. I've got to check that out!

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  5. Anonymous1:40 PM

    I feel a little funny treating books as decor objects, at least to the point of arranging books by color, or putting them all in white jackets or that kind of thing. Those techniques seem...anti-book to me.
    My philosophy is: Books are what they are. Either live with them, or if you find them *that* offensive, put them in another room.

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  6. Passementerie1:41 PM

    I saw that picture too - such a pleasant and unpretentious house.

    Passementerie

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  7. I love the idea of having a library/dining room. I believe that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had one. And I can only imagine candlelight glinting off of leather and gilt bindings.

    PAINTED bindings??? I suppose if you don't actually read... . What a thought.

    Great blog. Thanks again.

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  8. My fantasy! To have all my mags leather-bound.

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  9. hans brinker3:26 PM

    Two interesting book-display observatons, both examples from ELLE DECOR. In an article about an apartment decorated by Randy Powers, he turned all the books in the bookcases backwards, so only the gilded pages could be seen (very beautiful, and somewhat practical, since he said that nobody in his family reads much anyway). In another article, Jeffrey Bilhuber filled a family's bookcases with their decades' worth of National Geographic, so the shelves appeared all sunflower yellow, which was beautiful. And don't forget an historic solution to creating a calming background with books whose colors aren't so peaceful in combination: Nancy Lancaster's yellow room with its shelves full of books slipcovered in handmade white-paper dust jackets, with just enough cut out on the spine to be able to read the titles. Lancaster didn't want the colorful, mismatched bindings to fight with the room's yellow, gray, white, and gold color scheme, so she had Imogen Taylor sit in the room and cut dust jackets to fit.

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  10. These are beautiful. I love the pattern and color that book bindings bring to a room--in more neutral and/or minimalist rooms they are so often the only color and pattern there. They are also a clue to the owner's personality and/or interests; that makes them so very personal as well. However, many of the nouveau riche people here (San Francisco peninsula)buy their leather books by the yard so they aren't very personal or varied...I've seen grand libraries where all of the books are the same color of leather.

    I wonder if anyone saw the opposite of this in an issue of Elle Decor this year? They had turned the books backward so that the spines faced the back of the bookcase. It was very decorative, but not terribly practical--imagine going to get that copy of Sister Parish's biography and ending up with something else!

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  11. I thought Powers' idea of turning the books backwards was creative, and it certainly gave the room a "look". For me personally, I'm constantly referring to my books so I have to have them in some sort of order (and I can't worry about the color of the jackets either). I will admit that I do like the way Thomas Britt envelops his books and periodicals in cream paper with boxes cut off for the title (perhaps an idea borrowed from Nancy Lancaster?). You can see it on New York Social Diary.

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  12. hans brinker4:45 PM

    I think that the Elle Decor bookshelves you mention had nothing to do with reading; the books were sort of bought by the yard, I think; as long as the pages were gilt-edged, the contents were of no interest. It was a purely decorative display. Though I love books and frankly can't read enough, how people wish to use and display their books is a personal decision, not unlike buying fabric, et cetera. If you have bookshelves but don't read, why not fill them with books by the yard? At least you're being honest rather than pretentious (and not filling the shelves with Hummel figurines!). I think one of the reasons leather-bound books by the yard is somewhat popular is because they seem to resemble a collection of fine bindings, ie like Brooke Astor's library, et cetera, though obviously they are not. And nobody would believe they are. And fyi, libraries of fine bindings are rarely, rarely read anyway; it's so much about the binding, and less about the contents of the book. For most of us, however (well, for me anyway), books are meant to be used, enjoyed, abused, loved, annotated, and highlighted. They may not look the prettiest after a few years' of this kind of intense use, but they have been well loved :)

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  13. Hans- I guess my problem is that I have too many books and not enough bookshelves- this forces me to catalog my books in such a way that works for me. I consider my collection to be a working/reference library. That said, I do know that many people have to fill their shelves with something. I'm the first to admit that sometimes I buy books based on the cover (esp. if it is a vintage book with a charming cover). My father collects rare books and you certainly wouldn't read them- they're far too fragile!

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  14. Interesting that Hans' quote started out almost identically to one of Billy Baldwin's on the same subject but his ended recommending that people fill their shelves with things that truly interest them.

    I think my problem with the books by the yard is that they usually aren't fine bindings but inferior copies. To me, it's tantamount to having bad copies of Old Master paintings on one's walls.

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  15. What a great idea, I would love to do that. Of course my husband woudl probably view it as an excuse for me to buy more magazines, but what the heck!

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  16. Wow, Jennifer, you certainly struck a chord here. I love the bindings in this image, as he has bound his magazines - something many of us would love to have the money and space to do. I, too, have more books than space most of the time, so mine are arranged by catagory as well. The "Britt" meathod is wonderful, however.

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  17. Anonymous1:05 PM

    If someone filled their bookcases with Hummel figurines because she genuinely loved them, the gesture would have more integrity than someone buying a bunch of "tasteful" leather-bound books simply because he thought he *should* have some to display. "Well-loved and tacky" earns my respect over "I saw it done this way in House & Garden" any day.

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  18. julie1:20 PM

    I also love the photo of Dale Chihuly's library, seen in Met Home May 2007. He has a two story wall with thin shelving running horizontally. The books, without the dust jacket, sit with the cover facing out, not the spine...."Hundreds of art books sit flush against the library wall on narrow steel shelves. I like to see the cloth of a book and it's also easier to identify the subject when it's stamped in gold against a plain background.". He is a huge collector of Americana and likes to display in mass. He has a wall of Indian blankets displayed in a similar fashion that is beautiful.

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  19. viviana6:45 PM

    Anonymous, I agree with the integrity of a shelf-full of Hummel figurines versus the dubious taste of a shelf-full of books by the yard. However, I agree with you even more about doing what you like rather than what you see in a magazine. However, I would argue that most people are not secure enough in their taste to do precisely that: be themselves rather than their idea of self, as influenced by a magazine. Isn't that what so many of us do? Try to adapt/adopt something we've seen and hope it flies? That's the trouble with taste!

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  20. Anonymous1:27 AM

    This is the type of stuff that gives decorators a bad name. That and buying art to match the couch. Bottom line: It reeks of inauthenticity and a pathetic desire to impress others.

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  21. Anonymous12:10 PM

    Hey Viviana,

    I love the phrase "The Trouble With Taste"! Would make a provocative blog name.

    I judge these things as a guest. I've had wildly fun times in tacky homes, and grim, cheerless times in tasteful, books-by-the-yard homes. And I have to respectfully disagree with the person who posted: "why not fill [shelves] with books by the yard? At least you're being honest rather than pretentious." Books by the yard is pretty much the textbook example of honesty-free pretense. Unless, upon inspection, it turned out the lettering on the spines spelled out the phrase "Books by the yard," in which case the owner is probably someone hilarious and smart and worth getting to know.

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  22. Visually it's a great photo and the colors look amazing! Personally, for me, I could never buy books based on the color of the spine...I love my books (rips, dust and all) too much to be limited.

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  23. Anonymous comment about the spine reading "books by the yard" reminds me of an acquaintance's library where a door in the library was disguised with faux books and titles. One of the titles was "Nouveau is better than no Riche"; another was "There is a Dog(A Guide to Dyslexia)"). Some of the titles (the last, for example) were in less than perfect taste but they were all tongue in cheek digs at the wildly successful man who owned the home...

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  24. Morris- Based on what you wrote here, I think you'll like my post for tomorrow! (hint, hint!)

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  25. Anonymous1:06 PM

    How to store most trasured books and magazines? Look no further then Vitsoe (www.vitsoe.com) who sell the immaculately designed shelving system designed by Dieter Rams in 1960. Exceptional product, that can be added to as your collection expands. They are based in London and also sell via Moss in New York and LA.

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  26. Anon- Thank you for letting us know about these. Chic and functional- perfect!

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