Category Archives: From the Library Of
If there’s anyone who knows a little something about calibrating the perfect pattern, it’s Ellen Van Dusen. The D.C.-born fashion designer is Brooklyn’s reigning queen of prints, with nine seasons under her belt as Dusen Dusen, the line for which she creates flattering basics marked by colorful fruits, stripes, curves, dots, geometrics, and the like. So it made sense when we recently learned two things about Van Dusen: one, that she studied in college the psychology of design and the brain’s reaction to visual stimuli; and two, that she has a pretty incredible resource library to back that major up. On a recent visit to her Williamsburg studio, we perused her stacks, which included the massive, Todd Oldham–designed Alexander Girard monograph from a few years back and some amazing old Esprit books that we already had planned to excerpt in the coming weeks. But it was this book on Yaacov Agam, an Israeli sculptor and experimental artist known for his optical and kinetic work, that seemed to best represent Van Dusen’s joyful spirit. “As a textile designer, this is a huge source of inspiration,” Van Dusen admits. “I have named more than one print after Agam!” Here she tells the story of how she discovered Agam’s body of work and the long-lasting effect it has had on her own.
Last summer, we ran one of our favorite stories to date: a glimpse inside an 1980s-era Scandinavian design book that Seattle designers Ladies & Gentlemen Studio had unearthed while cleaning house. We’d intended to keep going with the column — ostensibly a place where people could show off the strange, beautiful, and mostly out-of-print volumes that populated their libraries — but somehow it fizzled out. We’d been talking this summer about resurrecting it, when at the same time we found out that Joanna Williams, the LA-based owner of the Kneeland textile studio and online marketplace was opening a third branch of her multi-faceted business: a research library, where clients could comb through the curated images Williams has amassed over the years or search through books or magazines focused on graphics, textiles, decorating, and more. We’d found our first subject.
Books about mid-century Scandinavian design are a dime a dozen. Jacobsen chairs, Aalto stools, Juhl sofas — you know the drill. But if you’ve ever been to a design museum in Stockholm or Helsinki, you probably also know that some of the coolest objects made in the region date back to a more unexpected era: the ’80s, when good things weren’t just happening in Italy, believe it or not. A few months back, we spotted some examples of said amazingness on the Instagram feed of the Seattle design duo Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, which they’d noted were pulled from a vintage book they’d rediscovered while cleaning house. And so this column was born, a place for people to show off strange, beautiful, and mostly out-of-print volumes that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day. Browse selections from Scandinavian Design Gallery in the slideshow here — complete with caption text plucked from the book and sporadic Ladies & Gentlemen accompanying commentary — then let us know if you have a gem of your own to share.