Design as an Attitude: Nominated books by Paola Antonelli, invited by Alice Rawsthorn

06 December 2020

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 Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA, New York

Bernard Rudofsky, Architecture Without Architects: A Short Introduction to Non-pedigreed Architecture (University of New Mexico Press)
The companion book to a milestone exhibition at MoMA, Architecture Without Architects is considered by some the epitaph of Modernism. In truth, one could consider it, beyond any label and historicisation, a celebration of a timeless idea of modern. Functional (not only practically, but often also symbolically), honest and ingenious in their use of available materials and techniques, arguably sustainable, and culturally poignant, these “anonymous” buildings from all over the world, some from ancient times, are quintessentially modern. Rudofsky’s powerful intuition remains very much current today.

William H. Whyte, City: Rediscovering the Center (University of Pennsylvania Press)
While sheltered at home in Manhattan during the weeks of lockdown, I missed New York. I missed the subway, the great characters, the nosy passersby, the noise… William Whyte was an “American urbanist, organisational analyst, journalist and people-watcher” who spent sixteen years studying the incredible vibrancy of cities and the way people (and cars, bikes, and animals) live, congregate, and use cities. At this time of social abstinence or distance, City is a delightful and melancholy read.

Alice Rawsthorn, Design as an Attitude (JRP | Ringier)
A collection of critical essays on design about topics as diverse as gender politics, colours, and craft, the book celebrates the diversity and range of design practices and cultures. Alice Rawsthorn, the foremost design critic of our times, is not only curious and endlessly knowledgeable, but is also an engrossing writer. As she has already proven in her many years as a columnist for the Financial Times and the New York Times, she has the ability to expand the understanding of the importance and power of design to a wide audience.

Vashti Harrison, Leaders and Dreamers: Bold and Visionary Women around the World (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
A box set containing two elegantly illustrated children books – Little Leaders (Bold Women in Black History) and Little Dreamers (Visionary Women around the World)Leaders and Dreamers is a delight and a surprise. From Zaha Hadid to Miriam Makeba, Octavia Butler, and Yayoi Kusama, the role models are excitingly, effortlessly diverse, representing superheroines from all corners of history and geography, and engaged in myriad different activities. They are both design books of a kind, and well-designed books.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics)
Considered by many as the book that launched the environmental movement, Silent Spring is tough and damning, but also poetic and hopeful in its call for social action and revolution. Having denounced their abuses and irresponsibility in the dissemination of the powerful (and powerfully toxic) insecticide DDT, Carson was persecuted by the chemical industry and its government allies. Her book should be required reading not only for designers and architects, but for all citizens of the world.

Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (Abacus)
Biologist Edward O. Wilson is among the rare scientists who are not forced to choose between audiences because his scholarly research is immediately and importantly relevant to everyone's – human or animal – and life. In Consilience, he delineates a biology-based structure that unifies science, social science, and the humanities. It is natural to see how comfortably design can fit and thrive in this beautiful scheme. To top it all, Wilson is also a vibrant writer.

Paola Antonelli (born 1963, Sassari, Italy) is an author, editor, architect, and curator. She is the Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design as well as the Director of Research and Development at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. Antonelli has challenged the perceptions of design through a global influence and her acquisitions for the collection at MoMA which includes the @ symbol and several video games such as Pac-Man.