Weekend reading


This weekend I am catching up on my long pending reading- books and magazines I bought during my trip to the UK and Holland a couple of months ago and here’s a lowdown.

Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) undoubtedly remains one of the most revered architects of all time. He made living in the wilderness cool with his Prairie school of architecture and brought a new perspective to organic living when the term ‘organic’ wasn’t as fashionable as it is today. Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship (Welsh for shining brow) institutions in Wisconsin and later in Arizona became the training grounds for many aspiring architects.

Of course most know Wright for his masterpiece- The Falling Water built for the Kauffman family in Pennsylvania, but he designed many structures including the Price Tower skyscraper in Chicago (Wright’s only realised skyscraper; Zaha Hadid is now designing an extension of the tower to be named Price Tower Arts Centre) and the Guggenheim in New York.

If I were ever given the opportunity to write the biography of any architect, it would be FLW, Le Corbousier, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid in that order. FLW also had an extraordinary sense of humour. Apparently once a client called him to complain about the leaking roof and water falling over a dining table chair. Wright is supposed to have told the client, “Move the chair”. I personally feel that every architect by the sheer virtue of their genius to design such marvellous structures are entitled to have a little bit of let’s say arrogance.

This isn’t a random blog. The reason I’m writing about FLW is because I’m reading this wonderful book that is basically a compilation of thirty years of correspondence between FLW and Lewis Mumford (a well-known American architecture critic). Even though Mumford was 30 years younger than FLW, the two became a source of inspiration to each other. It started out as a letter by FLW to the young writer in the form of comments and turned into three decades of communication which gives an insight into FLW’s more vulnerable side- the side that couldn’t have told the client to move the chair. Wright was also a passionate writer and had as much a panache for words as for drawing boards and blueprints.

Edited by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Robert Wojtowicz and published by Princeton Architectural Press, the book is a collector’s item. I came across it during my visit to Holland in October and I had to get it. It’s highly recommended.

This weekend I’m also pouring over the beautiful pages of the November issue of the UK edition of House and Garden. Unfortunatley parent company Conde Nast have decided to pull the title off their magazine stable and the institutional magazine has reached the end of the road. The triple-gatefold cover of the November issue which is its 60th anniversary has about 75 of its most beautiful covers from the past issues.

I’m hoping like all things old, vintage and no longer available, the value of this issue will go up in the next 20 years or so and it will become a collector’s item so I could put it up for auction. Why not? If Britney Spears can put her half-eaten chicken wings on eBay, we are talking about one of the most popular magazines here. The reasons for the demise are not known but we can only guess that electronic media (yes it includes bloggers like yours truly) is fast taking over the print media. Of course there are still people out there who would religiously buy every issue of their favourite magazine and flip through the beautiful photographs. I still do and even had to go buy a new bookshelf to stuff my favourite magazines in there which I find very painful to throw away, even though they are neither rare nor collector’s item.

For example the Time magazine’s Style and Design Fall supplement. I have read it over and over again but there’s is something about the way they put the already-public-knowledge information together that makes you want to hold on to it. In this particular issue they have done a global luxury survey on growing markets such as China, India and Russia. According to a survey done by them, the Chinese consider Bally, Chanel and Lacoste to be the brands most closely associated with high fashion. The issue if full of interesting facts, figures and statistics.

But the fact is the new electronic media is very efficient and if you can get information at the touch of a keyboard and a lot more cheaper (sans the beautiful pix), would you really mind?

Happy reading…


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Filed under architecture/urbanism, Books/Magazines

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