• Ab-rogers

    Bookshelf: Ab Rogers

  • Ab-rogers2

    Bookshelf: Ab Rogers


Bookshelf: Ab Rogers

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

Ab Rogers is part of an impossibly creative family dynasty, but he has the interior architecture and design quarter well and truly covered. His metaphorically and literally luminous residence in Wimbledon, south London is also home to the Ab Rogers studio, which has produced wonderfully immersive and striking internal cosmetics for the likes of Conde Nast, Tate Modern, Comme de Garçons and Topshop. Ab has selected five books for our Bookshelf feature, and they are a very nicely considered selection that begin to contextualise some of the finer motives that explain what and why he and his studio do so well.

Leviathan Paul Auster

There are so many great things about this novel; the dysfunctional nature of the hero, the idea of destruction as integral to creation, and most of all, the character of Maria – a fantasist/artist/detective based on the artist Sophie Calle. Like Calle, Maria turns anything into art, but especially herself and her life. She will only eat certain coloured foods on certain days and she follows people until her life intersects with theirs. It’s a completely inspiring book.

Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov

This book’s fantastical narrative (what happens when the devil visits the aestheist Soviet Union) is interwoven with darkness and light, and that’s something I like to include in my own. The extraordinary journey that the Master and Margarita go on deals with the craziness of communism, greed, ambition and dark magic. There are stories within stories – such as when the people take the Master’s gifts of clothes and money only to have them evaporate, leaving them naked in the street – which convey the messages with clarity and a kind of anarchy. The sheer imagination of its characters – the giant smoking cat, the severed heads, the exquisitely sensual Margarita and her ability to fly – make it so rich that I find something new every time I read it. It’s a great place to go when searching for ideas. When I was asked to design a shop for Emperor Moth by Patriarch’s Pond in Moscow, I got really excited. It seemed the perfect excuse to go even deeper into this fantasy world. But as with so many architectural projects, it remained a fantasy. The shop was never built. 

The Material of Invention: Materials and design Ezio Manzini

I first read this book when I was studying at the RCA in 1996 and it has become something of a bible for me over the years. Its combination of technical information and poetic narrative is something we strive for in my studio. It stresses the importance of lightness and the power of transparency and how they can change the way we live, through design. It addresses complexity and composites and the extra potential that understanding them can offer. It also looks at the relationship between matter and temperature and how a world in which these concepts are fully explored, could be very different from the one we live in. The designs in the section called Exercising Invention (in particular Alberto Meda’s  Tender To Me – a micro car that can transport the pedestrian but is also light enough to be transported by the pedestrian) are totally inspirational.

The last of the really great Whangdoodles Julie Andrews Edwards

This is a children’s novel that was first read to me as a child and that I’ve since read to my daughters. It is a book dedicated to imagination. In order to get to Whangdoodleland you must liberate your mind, set your imagination free and wear a funny hat. Once there, anything is possible and the pictures that such freedom conjured up are still vivid in my head. The charming professor Savant has an umbrella filled with images of brightly coloured butterflies, which he carries to make people look upwards rather than down at the pavement all the time. I want to do that too – find ways to encourage people to look up, liberate their vision and see what else is around them.

The New Science of Strong Materials: Or why you don’t fall through the floor JE Gordon

This must be the most accessible, readable account of the fundamental principles behind materials ever. In around 300 pages it unravels the essence of particular materials, explaining their true potential and their negative qualities. It’s written by a man similar to “Q” from James Bond who carried out research for the military in World War II. One of my favourite tales is about the development of something to land aircraft in the middle of the Atlantic during the war before the aircraft carrier had been invented. They tried using an iceberg but found out it wasn’t bomb-resistant. So they created a man-made iceberg – adding grass and straw to a natural one to make an organic compound, reinforcing the ice to make it stronger. A great idea, but by the time it was completed, someone else had invented the aircraft carrier. You really need to know the dynamics of materials and how they can be manipulated to the greatest advantage; it’s something that has been vital in all our work.


Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Architecture View Archive

  1. John-pawson-design-museum-its-nice-that-list

    The Design Museum’s new Kensington home sees its interior fit-out begin today, with Willmott Dixon Interiors delivering John Pawson’s designs. The new site will include two temporary exhibition spaces, a permanent collection display, learning spaces, design workshops, a library, an auditorium, a museum shop, a café and a restaurant. Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic says: “This is a truly exciting moment, as we take possession of this remarkable building and see it transformed into a museum for the twenty-first century. A huge amount of hard work has gone in to getting the museum to this stage and we are extremely grateful to all of our funders and supporters for their generosity.”

  2. Dreamland-margate-itsnicethat-list

    It’s been a long 11-year slog for the Save Dreamland campaign, but after more than a decade of work and a £30 million regeneration, the UK’s oldest theme park reopens today under the very capable eye of Wayne Hemingway, founder of Hemingway Design. It’s a dream project for the multi-disciplinary designer, who started off selling second-hand Dr Martens boots on a stall at Camden market, as he told us at Here London in 2013. He has since founded fashion house Red or Dead, collaborated with companies including Sainsbury’s and Coca-Cola, and worked on a number of large-scale architectural redevelopments with his wife Gerardine.

  3. Josh_haywood_arbour_itsnicethat_list

    With new-build apartments and houses popping up all over the landscape at incredible speed, it’s so interesting to see a project that focuses on true artistry and craft in architecture. Following on from the Hayam Sun Temple Josh Haywood and his team built last year at Burning Man festival in Nevada, the team hopes to construct a new installation titled Arbour.

  4. Kings_cross_pavilions_itsnicethat_list

    Two striking pavilions have been added to the King’s Cross landscape by four Irish architecture studios as part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. The Red Pavilion was designed as a collaboration between TAKA, Clancy Moore Architects and Steve Larkin Architects, who all share a studio in Dublin. Sat alongside is the Yellow Pavilion created by Belfast-based Hall McKnight.

  5. Assemble_brutalist_playground_it's_nice_that_list

    Architecture collective Assemble and photographer Simon Terrill have resurrected an almost forgotten piece of post-war British design: the outdoor playgrounds of Brutalist housing estates. The wildcard Turner prize nominees Assemble have brought their characteristic playfulness to the strange and surreal concrete playgrounds of the 50s, 60s and 70s by recreating large-scale fragments in reconstituted, freckled foam and Memphis-esque pastels inside the Royal Institute of British Architecture in London. Continuing their work with public spaces the collaborators have dug into RIBA’s housing archives for an installation that deliberately lacks the fundamental austerity of Brutalist design and virtually undoes – either for better or for worse – everything these gestures of failed utopia represent.

  6. Arts-admin-treexoffice-its-nice-that-list

    East London’s Hoxton Square is temporarily home to a treehouse office, as part of the London Festival of Architecture. But as Nathan Barley as it all sounds, it’s actually not all that bonkers an idea, and was devised as a way of exploring how we can sustain and enhance public open spaces. The project was produced by Artsadmin and created by Natalie Jeremijenko in collaboration with artists Shuster + Moseley, architects Tate Harmer and briefing architects Gensler, and comprises eight workspaces for “creative workers” and community groups, who can hire it throughout the installation’s seven month tenure. It’s made of compressed paper with see-through plastic and translucent polycarbonate making up the outer walls, aiming to “blur the boundary between office and nature.”

  7. Pagantempleiceland-itsnicethat-1

    A neo-Pagan temple is being built on an unassuming plot of land on the outskirts of Reykjavik. Liv Siddall went to meet those whose visions are taking shape…

  8. Kings-cross-pond-ooze-architects-its-nice-that-list

    I’ve slid down an art installation before thanks to Carsten Höller, and I’ve frolicked about in a room full of balloons thanks to Martin Creed, but never before had I literally swum in art until this morning. Bright and early, there I was shivering in art, thanks to a bathing pond art installation in a building site in London’s King’s Cross. The piece, formally known as Of Soil and Water: the King’s Cross Pond Club , was created by Ooze Architects (Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg) and artist Marjetica Potrč, and takes the form of a natural, chemical-free pool, complete with plants and bushes. And who knows what else – I didn’t dare think what one day could be lurking in there after the maggoty old python Hampstead Heath ponds story of a few years back. 

  9. Serpentine-pavilion-int-list

    SelgasCano’s colourful, experimental designs for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion wouldn’t look out of place at Glastonbury’s kids’ tent, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The structure, which will be in place from 25 June until 18 October, is made of materials including plastic fabric and webbing, forming a huge tunnel-like construction that forms a “journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes,” according to the architects. SelgasCano is copmrised of Spanish architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano, and is based in Madrid. This will be the 15th Serpentine Pavilion commission, with previous designs by architects including Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry.

  10. Thomasheatherwick-studio-nanyanguniversity-int-list

    Whenever I get invited to give a talk at a university I have a pang of jealousy about people spending their days doing creative things (and their evenings drinking in subsidised bars). But it’s fair to say that architecturally speaking, higher education tends to be pretty functional, unless you go to the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore that is. They have just opened their new Learning Hub building designed by Thomas Heatherwick, which comprises 12 tapered towers and an interlocking network of social spaces. The architect says he was motivated by exactly the kind of underwhelming university structures I mentioned above – “unappealing spaces with endless corridors, no natural daylight and only hints of other people’s presence.”

  11. List

    Having only once covered the work of Californian architect Michael Jantzen on the site, it seems about time we provided a little more context to his work and showed off one of his seminal pieces. The M-House is a portable modular system through which multiple iterations of a structure can be made. It consists of a series of rectangular panels, attached by hinges to a gridded frame, that can be moved and manipulated to serve a variety of functions, both structural and decorative. Each new structure can be built to unique specifications so that no M-House needs to look the same. Michael’s intention was that these buildings could serve as a holiday home or as an impressive complex of modular retreats in a single resort. So why hasn’t anyone built this resort yet? Better than Butlins.

  12. List-klmairbnb_02

    Being on a plane overnight can have its merits. Watching a tonne of terrible films, wearing strange towelling socks, having your dinner brought over by someone who’s paid to be lovely to you and wear lots of blusher. It can also have its oft-bemoaned downsides, unhappy and vocal children, being one; lack of sleep being another. However, a night on a plane has taken on something of a different dynamic thanks to a project that’s seen one KLM plane masquerading as a loft apartment, with interior designs by Dutch design consultancy TANK that belie its origins in favour of a very much homely approach.

  13. List

    In recent years the 2012 Olympic Torch, the UK government website and the Plumen lightbulb have scooped the Design Museum’s prestigious Designs of the Year title; last night Zaha Hadid’s Azerbajani cultural centre joined the illustrious list.