Thus far, 2011 has been a good year for Samuel Wilkinson. His Plumen light bulb received top brass at the Design Museum’s Brit Insurance Design of the Year and his Vessels Series, made to compliment the Plumen, received its own nomination for Best British Design. These recognitions are both symptoms of Wilkinson’s extraordinary approach to originality and function, something that he has honed to great personal effect since launching his own studio four short years ago. This week he is selecting five books to share in our Bookshelf feature…
Manufacturing Processes Rob Thompson
This is a very useful reference book. It includes most manufacturing processes, even when you have exhausted ways to make something, you can always find a new method. Depending on where a project is starting, I use it for inspiration or just for pure reference. It covers various materials and then breaks down the various ways to industrialise them. Often a project can start with learning a new process, then trying to look for ways to change it to produce something that’s not been seen before. A big recommendation for anyone interested on how things are made.
Symmetry: The ordering principles David Wade
This is a lovely little book I bought a couple of months ago and it reminds me of the books I loved as a kid. I was never a big reader so these small interesting books that break down the world fascinated me. I am really interested in patterns and this combines two of my passions of mathematics and nature, something that probably translates into my work. The book explores areas of study from the Fibonacci series and symmetries in chaos to analysing fractals.
Seeds Rob Kessler and Wolfgang Stuppy
I was given this on my birthday last year. This beautiful book is a collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and is full of big juicy images of various types of seeds scanned through an electronic microscope. You may think that micro close-ups of seeds would be a bit bland – think again! The seeds feel like beautiful, intricate works of art each with their individual genetic codes – some mimic alien forms, others have the vision of vibrant pitted moons. One of my favourite forms is the seeds of Larkspurs (Ranunculaceae), described as “wearing a dress of helically arranged, papery lamellae that assist wind dispersal.”
Havana Robert Polidori
I have a lot of photography books but this one is one that I go back to time after time for inspiration. The book covers Polidori’s 10 days shoots of Havana. He was originally commissioned for an article in The New Yorker about the architecture of Havana but after his first trip he saw that it would make a great collection for a book. The beauty in the images are the faded opulence and crumbling facades. The interiors show juxtaposed colours, textures and patterns which have a wonderful kitsch quality. Although mostly uninhabitated, each photo sparks my imagination to consider the variety of people who passed through.
1000 chairs Charlotte and Peter Fiell
I bought this at the start of my design education and it has never drifted far from my desk. Quite simply the most concise and best reference for the history of chair design. It does what it says on the tin – gives a chronological guide to chair design from the early 19th century up until the present day. Seeing the evolution of any object is interesting and chairs in particular are one of the first things to reflect new movements and industrial progression. If you are a chair nerd as I am you will have this book, if you are not I am sure would enjoy it on the coffee table.