Canopy | Design Reading List

Design Reading List

Design Books

All this extra time at home has us picking through our book shelves in search of inspiration and distraction -- a way to both kill the time and make the most of it. 

As we perused the stories of the 20th century's most influential designers and craftspeople, we were overwhelmed by the power of their creativity, ingenuity and tenacity. Their bold and bracingly original perspectives pushed the field forward and forever changed what we think of as furniture. Today, we see traces of their work everywhere we look, including and especially among many of the pieces we feature on Canopy.

In the spirit of inspiration and distraction, we wanted to share our ten favorite books on 20th century furniture design and craftsmanship in hopes that you'll find them to be as powerful and meaningful as we do.

Happy reading!



Sam Maloof, Woodworker

Sam Maloof, Woodworker

The legendary self-taught artist and woodworker reflects on his career in prose as simple and beautiful as the furniture he created. His humility and respect for the craft shine through on every page. Maloof's innovative joinery and elegant curves have inspired generations of designers and woodworkers. This book shows why.

Buy on Amazon

The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker's Reflections by George Nakashima

Soul of a Tree, George Nakashima

In this auto-biography, preeminent designer and woodworker George Nakashima shares his reverence for timber and the responsibility of woodworkers to shape each piece to its true potential. It's a beautiful, thoughtful account of the deep spirituality that guided Nakashima and his work. You'll never look at a tree -- or a piece of wood furniture -- the same way.

Buy on Amazon

The World of Charles and Ray Eames

World of Eames, Eames Chair

A sweeping account of the public and private lives of two of the most influential 20th century designers, created in collaboration with the Eames estate. Using stunning photography and elegant prose, the book covers the detailed history of the Eames Office, the LA powerhouse that churned out groundbreaking designs across industries for more than four decades.

Buy on Amazon 

Watercolors by Finn Juhl

Watercolors by Finn Juhl

While most readers will surely recognize the name of Finn Juhl, one of the greats of the Danish modern movement, few may know that he was a talented watercolorist. Over the course of his influential career, Juhl filled in nearly every sketch with delicately painted watercolors to "ease understanding," as he put it. Juhl believed strongly that only watercolor could bring a sketch to life and properly convey the feeling of a piece. This book brings together the marvelous watercolors of some of his most famous designs.

Buy on Amazon 

Hans J. Wegner: Just One Good Chair

Wegner: Just One Good Chair

Arguably the most influential of the great Danish designers, Hans Wegner is best known for his superbly elegant and deceptively simple chairs. Though one of pieces has become known simply as "The Chair," Wegner could never envision just one chair. As he put it, "If only you could design just one good chair in your life...But you simply cannot. This book captures his incessant quest for just one good chair.

Buy

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses

Frank Lloyd Wright - The Houses

A far-reaching account of Wright's work and its impact on modern architecture, with exquisite photographs of all 289 extant Wright houses in additional to floor plans, archival images, and text and essays by several leading Wright scholars. It is the quintessential book on Wright's career and influence, and it makes for wonderful design inspiration while stuck at home.

Buy on Amazon

Herman Miller: A Way of Living

Herman Miller - A Way of Living

A comprehensive look at the iconic design company's illustrative 100-year history. Through ten chapters of text and thousands of illustrations, the book showcases the company's innovative and groundbreaking approach to design and its impact on contemporary furniture.

Buy on Amazon 

Børge Mogensen: Simplicity and Function

Borge Mogensen

Børge Mogensen was among the greatest and most influential designers of the Danish modern movement, and this book captures his storied approach to design beautifully. Complete with workshop drawings, sketches and photographs, the book beautifully conveys his adherence to functionality and the Shaker inspiration behind it.

Buy on Amazon 

The Book of Shaker Furniture

The Book of Shaker Furniture

THE quintessential book on one of the most influential approaches to design. The thoughtful emphasis on functional form over ornamentation inspired the modern approach to simplicity and minimalism that defines so much of the furniture we treasure today. It all started with the Shakers, and this book tells the story beautifully.

Buy on Amazon 

The Atlas of Furniture Design

Atlas of Furniture Design

More than 20 years in the making, The Atlas of Furniture Design is a 1,000-page encyclopedia of modern furniture design. Its 2,500 images showcase the work of more than 500 influential designers coupled with detailed essays on modern furniture design and its impact on the world written by 71 different scholars. It's a must have for any design enthusiast.

Buy on Amazon