Lives and times: New art and architecture books

Reminiscing on what has transpired in or before our lives, this month’s picks of the new art, architecture and design books look at the legacy of some of the spaces, places and faces we have behind us. Some deal with temporary works of urban art in the capital; others, the creation of new history in the light of the old. Have a browse and enjoy.

Melancholy Wedgwood / Moon, Iris
“Melancholy Wedgwood is an experimental biography that traces multiple strands in the ceramic entrepreneur’s life to propose an alternative look at eighteenth-century England’s tenuous relationship to our own lives and times.” (Catalogue)

Here today, gone tomorrow : Wellington street art / Baird, Jaimie D.
“Four decades, 1200+ images. Art or vandalism, protest or social commentary – how you see street art depends on where you stand. Jamie Baird’s Here today gone tomorrow documents his 40-year fascination with these ephemera as “a testament to human imagination, innovation and cultural diversity. Whatever you make of it, this book’s riot of colour and off-beat street images cements Wellington’s reputation as “one of the coolest little capitals in the world.” (Catalogue)

The house of green : natural homes and biophilic architecture
“In the search for the sweet spot where nature and modern-day living meet, The House of Green delivers solutions for a perfect blend of both worlds. Longing for nature is no strange feeling for anyone. The House of Green is a collection of the most stunning architecture and interiors incorporating nature in their designs, that explores the benefits of this approach to homes, workplaces, and more. Whether you are a design lover looking to revamp your home or a designer searching for new professional solutions, we invite you to dive in and fully experience The House of Green.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

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The Rise of Vernacular Architecture in Wellington

The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of a unique style of New Zealand architecture. Two of the best known exponents of this new form were the Wellington based architects, Roger Walker and Ian Athfield.

The Wellington Club, 88 The Terrace. Designed by Roger Walker c. 1971, demolished 1986.

The ‘Enfants Terribles’ of Wellington architecture, Roger Walker and Ian Athfield shook up the scene like few had done before them and  in the 1970s were among the first New Zealand architects to become household names. Though they each had their individual distinctive style, they both created work that reacted against then-dominant modernist architecture in the 1960s and 1970s and created a new form that was unique to this country. By the time they began their professional careers in Wellington, there were few flat sections left within the urban boundary so housing developments increasingly began to spread up steeply sloping hill suburbs around the city’s perimeter. Each architect produced bold designs that integrated with the natural form of the land rather than trying to fight against it. Rooms were often positioned for maximum light and views and experimented with bold colours, unusual shapes and both new & recycled materials. In many respects their designs were forerunners to the rise of postmodernism which was embraced in New Zealand in the second half of the 1980s (exemplified in Ian Athfield’s design of the Wellington Central Public Library, Te Matapihi)

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Art Deco heritage architecture and collectables

Glamourous, avant-garde and beautiful, Art Deco style influenced the world since 1920 in architecture, fashion, jazz music, and cars. This blog has all things about Art Deco, from New York to New Zealand, and from admirable to collectable.

Art deco : living with the art deco style / Miller, Judith
“In the 1920s and 1930s, designers and craftsmen made innovative use of both natural and man-made materials to produce elegant pieces that broke with tradition and celebrated the future. This beautifully illustrated book explores all the key collecting areas, with chapters on furniture, glass, ceramics, sculpture, metalwork, silver and plastics, prints and posters, rugs and textiles. With clear price codes and biographies of key makers and designers. ” (Adapted from

Art deco New Zealand : an illustrated guide / Moyle, Terry
“A book covers New Zealand’s Art Deco heritage in the world famous cities like Napier and Hastings, and in towns and cities throughout the country. With many Art Deco buildings obscured, dilapidated, or even lost, the stunning detailed illustrations bring to life a compelling and evocative vision of the past. Here the style and mood of buildings, along with the cars and fashion styles of the period give an appreciation of New Zealand’s Art Deco heritage. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Art deco : the twentieth century’s iconic decorative style, from Paris, London, and Brussels to New York, Sydney, and Santa Monica / Schwartzman, Arnold
“Art deco is the 20th century’s most glamorous architectural style which shaped popular ideas of modern luxury. This book highlights photographs of Art Deco buildings, with an emphasis on London, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, and Paris. Art Deco features detail on murals, mosaics, flooring, ironwork, and other ornamental flourishes.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Art deco collectibles : fashionable objets from the Jazz Age / Capstick-Dale, Rodney
“This book demonstrate Deco style items at the height of fashion, and are highly prized collectibles today. They demonstrate an era of close cooperation between designers and manufacturers, who aimed for function and beautiful products. This informative showcase of portable classics of avant-garde modern design from Britain, Europe (particularly France) and the United States.” (Adapted from

Sydney art deco / Sheridan, Peter
“Longlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2020 for Illustrated Non-Fiction. This book explores the impact of the Art Deco style on the landscape and life of Sydney during the 1930s and 1940s with a glimpse of Australian artwork, fashion, furniture and accessories. The time of Art Deco was a brief hiatus between two World Wars and compounded by the devastating effects of the Great Depression. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Raupo to deco : Wellington styles and architects, 1840-1940 / Mew, G
“Celebrating a century of architectural achievement in Wellington, this book links the progression of style characteristics from raupo thatching to art deco ornament with the development of the city. It contains information about more than 300 architects associated with Wellington at various times plus photos, elevations and reproductions of rare plans. The authors last collaboration was the prize-winning Ring Around the City.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Carpets of the art deco era / Day, Susan
“The design revolutions of the early 20th century were woven into the very fabric of the carpets and rugs of that era. It charts the evolution of Victorian floral into the angular elegance of Art Deco and bold abstraction of Modernism. Such artists and designers as Picasso, Poiret, Gray, Delaunay, Matisse, Klee, and many more advanced the designs going on underfoot, making these rugs extremely collectible artworks in their own right. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

A kind of magic : art deco vanity cases / Hue-Williams, Sarah
“After 1918, post-war euphoria spread across Europe and America. Technology such as aeroplanes, motorcars and ocean liners changed the pace of life, while avant-garde fashion, jazz, The Great Gatsby and Hollywood flourished. The vanity case, the ultimate jewelled fashion accessory were made using  precious metals including platinum and gold, with inlays of lacquer, gemstones, mother of pearl, jade, or enamel. These ‘reticules’ took Paris’ skilled designers and craftsmen months to complete and were extremely expensive. Objects of desire to be passed round and shown off at gatherings of the super-rich, they became miniature status symbols to be seen with at the opera or restaurant. (Adapted from the Catalogue)