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Regulars / Bookshelf

Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic shares his most-loved books

Deyan Sudjic has been director of the Design Museum since 2006 and is a prolific writer about design and architecture. In between co-founding Blueprint magazine in 1983 with Peter Murray and working as the architecture critic for The Observer since 2000, he has written numerous books on architecture. His latest tome, The Language of Cities, tries to define the 21st Century city by looking at the differences between capital cities and the rest, in a bid to understand how people identify with these metropolises. With a love of spaces and enduring design, we were eager to find out what gems are lurking on Deyan’s bookshelf. A savvy architecture-heavy selection, he takes us on a journey from the buildings of London to Latin America and its initial utopian plans.

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Ian Nairn: Nairn’s London

Ian Nairn: Nairn’s London 

Ian Nairn was an inspiration and a writer who helped us see both the mundane and the glorious in cities and in architecture differently. He was my predecessor as The Sunday Times architecture critic. My first job was to write his obituary. He wrote beautifully – his phrase about Hawksmoor’s marvellous Christ Church in Spitalfields as "doomed and grimly magnificent” still rings in my head. Thankfully the church survived.

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Victor Papanek: Design for the Real World

Victor Papanek: Design for the Real World

Originally published in the 1970s, Victor Papanek was design’s answer to Girolamo Savanarola (the Renaissance Dominican friar), preaching austerity and sackcloth. There are, he suggested a few professions more harmful than design, but not many. His view was eclipsed for a while by the rise of the design superstars, but now seems more relevant than ever, now that we are bored with the cult of celebrity.

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Justin McGuirk: Radical Cities

Justin McGuirk: Radical Cities

This is Che Guevara’s motorcycle diaries as written by an architecture critic. McGuirk took a long journey through Latin America to see what has become of the utopian plans of the recent past.

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Adolf Loos: Ornament and Crime

Adolf Loos: Ornament and Crime

Loos was a brilliant, and often laceratingly funny critic and a stylish writer, as well as a gifted architect. This collection is one of several that brings together essays he wrote over several years and addresses such key questions as why the Germans wear their trousers too wide.

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Adolf Loos: Why a Man should be Well Dressed

Adolf Loos: Why a Man should be Well Dressed

Perhaps it’s cheating to have two books of Loos’ writings, but how can you beat a title like this?