An Insider’s Guide to Design Books in Los Angeles Written By Meg Touborg

You may have attended chic book signings for famous designers in the La Cienega Design Quarter; what goes on behind the scenes to motivate those glamorous parties?

For designers and architects, putting a life’s work into 200 pages or so requires unmatched patience, articulation (and frequently, unparalleled budgets too.) The compilation of both words and images must describe the purpose of the designer’s career in a meaningful and coherent way – – so that the readership, many untrained in design, can understand the body of work and be inspired. A worthy, but tall, order!

Creating a unique concept, gathering substantial assets and procuring an appropriate publisher is only the first step in a successful book development process for the architect or designer. The second stage, presenting the book publicly in a crowded field, can involve a year of travel and substantial budgets for book events such as lectures and signings. This is a major career investment and highlight.

Los Angeles is an obvious destination for design authors on tour due to our thriving art and design market, and associations with all matters creative, especially architecture. HollyhockHarbingerMecox Gardens, and McKinnon & Harris in the La Cienega Design Quarter are frequent hosts for authors in the design industry. And, of course, Los Angeles itself can star in many designers’ portrayals of their work.

Tom Stringer (author of An Adventurous Life) Joe Lucas (owner of Harbinger) & Tim Campbell (author of Intentional Beauty) at their McKinnon & Harris book signing 10/17

The best example from this fall was the favorite design book of the season, written by Tim Campbell. Tim is an LA-based designer with a stunning residence in Silver Lake and a unique office setting in Culver City, in which he will host pop-up artist exhibitions next year. Campbell’s book, Intentional Beauty, was named “This Year’s Most Sophisticated Book On Architecture And Interior Design” by Forbes, and was celebrated along with its accompanying documentary in London, New York and Los Angeles.

Richard Neutra’s Singleton House in Beverly Hills serves as the cover of Tim Campbell’s monograph

Tim Campbell’s monograph is a love letter to Los Angeles. His firm, Studio Tim Campbell, has restored important historic houses in Los Angeles, including a landmarked Luis Barragan-designed property in Holmby Hills, Richard Neutra’s Singleton House in Beverly Hills, and Rex Lotery’s Parkes Residence in Beverly Hills. “I see Los Angeles through the lens of architecture”, Campbell says, “the myriad of styles and the vast flexibility in the expressions of those styles is a testament to the freedom of expression that the West, especially Southern California, has enjoyed since her birth.”

Luis Barragan Fountain, Holmby Hills
Rex Lotery’s Parkes Residence, Beverly Hills

Beyond the impressive list of historic Los Angeles houses within its covers, Campbell’s is a story about a man whose vision and life have been shaped by this city. “There’s a permissiveness about Los Angeles that encourages a kind of creative freedom. This isn’t a city that’s concerned with where you came from, it just cares about who you are now and what you can contribute today, prizing the present over pedigree…Perhaps that’s why I feel my story could not have been written without Los Angeles as a lead character” (Tim Campbell, Intentional Beauty).

Tim Campbell on set for the “Intentional Beauty” docuseries in Rex Lotery’s Parkes Residence Photo: Chris Hall

While Intentional Beauty is one of the most notable monographs of a designer’s work in the past few years, upcoming books celebrate a range of designer talents in 2018. These new titles include the much-anticipated California Contemporary by Grant Kirkpatrick, which will focus on the singular modernist style that evolved in California domestic architecture, and City of Angels by best-selling author Jennifer Ash Rudick, whose unerring eye for style will capture some of the most elegant and glamorous interiors in Los Angeles.

Keep an eye out for invitations to celebrate and support design authors who have spent considerable effort to express their unique views in writing and photography! Approach them and ask about the meaning of their work, and about their personal perspectives. They have put themselves out there in print and in person to connect with the community – they want to hear from you!

Check out: Metworks Inc.

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Photo Credits: Photo 1: Mckinnon & Harris : Sylvie Cogrann  Photo 2: Intentional Beauty Cover: Andrew Bush . Photos 3-5: Luis Barragan, Rex Lotery & Tim Campbell: Chris Hall

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