Shelf Life

Design Library is coming to Clerkenwell Design Week – a space for visitors to relax and read. So The Post asked leading design journalist Dominic Lutyens for his pick of classic books from his personal library.

As well as writing his own books, including 70s Style & Design, Celia Birtwell and Living with Mid-Century Collectibles, Dominic Lutyens has built up a library of classics covering his field of expertise. A journalist covering design, architecture, fashion and art for The Guardian, Financial Times and Elle Decoration, his main influence is 20th century modernism. “I like its pared-down aesthetic, but I also like fun, colourful design that doesn’t take itself too seriously,” he says.

Favourite designers include Ettore Sottsass (“fun, funky surface patterns”), Kaj Franck, Joe Colombo, Pierre Paulin and Josef Frank (“riotously colourful textiles”). Among contemporary designers, he admires the Bouroullec brothers, as well as Jasper Morrison’s “super-elegant and well- proportioned” work and Dutch designer Bertjan Pot’s “playful lighting”.

Growing up in London, Lutyens credits his parents’ good taste as well as the capital’s trendy shops for switching him on to design. “I particularly love 1970s design, ranging from the decade’s early pop style to the more postmodernist aesthetic of the late Seventies,” he says. His “groovy” parents passed on their Perspex coffee table to him. Lutyens later acquired a striking Seventies sofa on Portobello Road. Some out-of-print titles on his list will also require seeking out – but that’s part of the fun of building your own design library. 

Design Library, supported by +Halle furniture, is a space in Design Fields where visitors can relax while reading leading design publications. Conversations at Clerkenwell is also staged in Spa Fields during Clerkenwell Design Week.


The Style of the Century: 1900- 1980 by Bevis Hillier (Bloomsbury/ Herbert Press) Hillier was a champion of Art Deco and kitsch in the 1970s and this book (including product design, furniture and fashion) is informative and brilliantly observed. It takes in everything from Art Nouveau to punk, putting these movements in a social context. Hillier has a large vocabulary but writes in a fun rather than pompous way.
Second-hand from Amazon or Abe Books

Tibor Reich: Art of Colour and Texture by Sue Prichard and Mary Schoeser (Tibor) I’d never heard of Reich until his grandson told me about this beautifully designed book. He was born into a Jewish family in Budapest in 1916, escaped Nazi- occupied Vienna and became a pioneering interior and textile designer in Britain. He supplied his vibrant, highly textured fabrics to everyone from 10 Downing Street to Concorde. colour-texture

The New Look: Design in the Fifties by Lesley Jackson (Thames & Hudson) “The New Look: Design in the Fifties” was a great resource for my own book on mid-century design [“Living with Mid-Century Collectibles”, published in 2014 by Ryland Peters & Small]. Lesley Jackson’s book is a hugely informative, in-depth and analytical study of the roots of mid-century design and its many strands. Second-hand from Amazon or Abe Books

A Cartoon History of Architecture by Osbert Lancaster (John Murray) I loved this book as a teenager. It’s a chronological survey of changing styles of architecture and interiors, summarising their main traits and foibles, and begins with ancient Greece and culminates in an early Seventies hippie bedsit. Osbert Lancaster’s text is satirical and mordantly witty, as are his caricatures of the various buildings’ inhabitants. Second-hand from Amazon or Abe Books

The Collier Campbell Archive: 50 Years of Passion in Pattern by Sarah Campbell and Emma Shackleton (Ilex Press) Sarah Campbell and her sister Susan Collier brought joy into textile design and into many a home with their colourful, hand- painted designs. Working in close harmony, the sisters were prolific, designing for Liberty, Yves Saint Laurent, Habitat and many others. This thumping great book is testament to the huge scope of their work. Available from Amazon 

Modern: A Portfolio of Contemporary Interior Design Styles by Jonathan Glancey (Mitchell Beazley) This aims to define what is modern and charts the evolution of architecture, interiors and furniture. I used to enjoy Glancey’s articles in The Guardian when he was its architecture critic. His writing is sophisticated and witty but this book also appeals for its lavish images illustrating the different key styles he examines. Second-hand from Amazon or Abe Books