Where To Find Great Architecture & Design Books Now

Celebrity aside, we have a lot in common with Karl Lagerfeld, Diane Keaton, Ellen DeGeneres and the eternally sexy Keith Richards. All place a high premium on books, as evidenced by the lavish libraries they’ve built in their homes and we peeked at online—especially Lagerfeld, who’s estimated to have over 300,000 volumes packed into the towering floor-to-ceiling shelves that scale his two-story Paris living room.

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Karl Lagerfeld’s library in his Paris studio, estimated to house over 300,000 tomes, sets a new ‘industry’ gold standard. Photo: Bookriot

As interior designers, we focus our bibliophilia on architecture and design books rather than self-help, kid lit and erotica, which are the best-selling categories today according to an analysis by USA Today. Needless to say, they are instrumental in our work as luxury interior designers. But building a great library of the best books on interior design in this age of e-tail is easier said than done. Gone are the days when we could page through those big, beautiful, hefty tomes in person before buying them; bookstores are a rare commodity in Chicago these days, let alone ones devoted to only decorative arts.

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It's a luxury to be able to page through books, yet so helpful in finding inspirational content we can make use of in our work. Photo: Elle Décor

But we found a way to prevail! Now we make architecture and design books our ‘souvenirs of choice’ on our trips to both coasts, where there are still a bevy of great independent design bookstores. For instance, the renowned German publisher Taschen, devoted to every branch of the arts, has outposts in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Miami and New York. And the venerable publisher Rizzoli, legendary for its illustrated books, just reopened a flagship store in Manhattan’s chic NoMad district designed by our good friend architect Tom Kligerman. We have our hearts set on picking up the just-released tome “A Red Like No Other” ($60), which tells an intriguing story of the world’s most powerful color, next time we’re there.

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The venerable publisher Taschen is celebrated for its bookstores that are as visually remarkable as the gorgeous tomes they produce. Here is its newest shop in Milan. Photo: Taschen

Yet New York still has plenty of other great independent bookstores, such as Strand in Union Square, which is bigger than many department stores and has a huge design department. But one of our favorite sources devoted solely to architecture and design books is a British import, Potterton Books, so conveniently sited right in the New York Design Center. And for good reason; Potterton is considered the world’s foremost specialist in books on all decorative topics, ranging from furnishings and textiles to vernacular design and period style. This makes them our go-to source for best selection of books on interior design on particularly obscure topics. Best of all, if you can’t find what you need, they’ll find it for you; locating rare and out-of-print books are their specialty.

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Rare and/or out-of-print design books are a specialty at Potterton Books. Photo: Stylecaster

Los Angeles is also no slouch when it comes to architecture and design books thanks to Hennessey & Ingalls in Santa Monica. Coffee table tomes about art and architecture that are heavy, literally and figuratively, reign supreme in this shop, which also focuses on signed, limited edition and rare and collectibles books. They’re also genius at making gift suggestions, which prompted us to buy “Andy Warhol-The Complete Commissioned Magazine Work” last year. But given the prices some of the older limited editions we’ve seen there command, now may be the time to buy the Sumo-sized book of Annie Liebovitz’s 40-year career that comes with its own tripod and the choice of covers highlighting different artists she has photographed.

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The Collector’s Edition of Annie Liebovitz’s oeuvre that spans 40 years of work and comes with four different covers is available at Hennessey & Ingalls in Santa Monica. Photo: Taschen

18 Sep 2015

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