Guest Curator Alice Rawsthorn invites twelve of her friends from the fields of contemporary art, design and other areas of contemporary culture to nominate books for Dublin Art Book Fair 2020.

The list includes twenty titles nominated by Alice and a further seventy-seven books suggested to us by her invitees. Collectively these books add another incredible, fascinating and diverse dimension to the books that DABF 2020, Design as an Attitude gathers together. The nominated books are available to purchase on our Shop and come with short notes of recommendation, written by their nominees.

Alice Rawsthorn (writer and design critic), Paola Antonelli (Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA), Alvaro Barrington (artist), Hilary Cottam (social designer), Michael Craig-Martin (artist), Es Devlin (artist and stage designer), Conor Donlon (owner Donlon Books, London), Marie Donnelly (philanthropist), Andrew Durbin (writer and editor of frieze), Helen Marten (artist), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London), Zoé Whitley (Director, Chisenhale Gallery, London).

Selection by Helen Marten, artist

Donald J. Wilcox, Finnish Design: Facts and Fancy (Van Nostrand Reinhold Company)
A book of mutual surrealism and pragmatism, Willcox celebrates the humour of design failure as much as he does the infallibility of striped toothpaste. The blade construction of Fiskar scissors, the so-called architectural scars of 20th Century Finnish gas stations, or the functional errors of poorly sculpted public phone booths – this book makes a comedic and probing critique of the more overlooked (yet vital) aspects of Finnish design.

Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas (The MIT Press)
This book changed my life! An homage to modern architecture’s obsession with resolving the conceptual dimensions of inside and out. Ducks, sheds, suburban housing, monuments, the desert itself – the pure physiognomy of the sign, in all its virtual and physical manifestations is diagrammed and linguistically pulled apart.

Julia Kristeva, The Severed Head: Capital Visions (Columbia University Press)
A provocation or delirium of sorts, Kristeva’s book considers the image of the head as an icon, an artefact, a locus of psychological reckoning, and a sign of myth or metaphor. Kristeva surveys paintings, objects and lines of thought from the Palaeolithic period to the present, considering decoration, punishment, analysis and religion.

Sergei Eisenstein, On Disney (Seagull Books)
This book is pure magic, one genius on another. A book about the flight and rhythm of the cartoon: the substance it activates, the surreal pleasure of the inorganic becoming uncontrollably and beautifully plasmatised. Panting trains, bleating sausages, morphing candle wax, this is a truly ecstatic understanding of the potentiality of the hand drawn line.

David Pye, The Nature and Art of Workmanship (Bloomsbury Academic)
Nobody understands tactility and its deployment in craft more exquisitely than David Pye. A love letter to substance – to all its perversions, its inherent language capacity and the ways in which error can be harnessed to aesthetic gain. This is a book about the concept of care in the context of mass manufacture.

Helen Marten (born 1985, Macclesfield, UK) is an artist based in London who works in sculpture, video, and installation art. Her work has been included in the 56th Venice Biennale and the 20th Biennale of Sydney. In 2016 she won the inaugural Hepworth Prize for sculpture, and the Turner Prize. After each of these awards, she shared the prize with the others shortlisted in a gesture of communality.