I have long been a fan of Lucia van der Post, daugher of our own Laurens Van der Post. Regarded as one of the most stylish women in England and a doyene of good taste, I have always agreed with her that the things that matter in a house, apart from it being filled with people that you love, (which is really the only important thing) are books, flowers, music, food and wine. In all of these catagories you dont have to be a millionaire to acquire them – the fridge does not need to be stocked exclusively with Crystal and caviar – the books not required to be first editions, the flowers can be field flowers – what matters is that they speak to you – to what you love and hold dear.
Books Filling a home with the books on subjects that you love and that interest you speaks volumes about who you are and what is important to you. They are easier than ever to come upon thanks to Amazon, whose endless selection of coffee table books is extraordinary. Just scanning through whats on offer on amazon.com can be a little overwhelming. Of course Kindle is now an option too which is handy when you’re on the go constantly and dont have a place to keep an extensive collection of books but there is something so special about the weight , the smell and the tangibility of a real coffee table book that Kindle can never match. Closer to home and if you can’t handle the wait Exclusive Books and Wordsworth Books always offer a very exciting array of must have books. Lately they have had the most fabulous coffee table books featuring the great contemporary designers. Markets and second hand book stores are a wonderful source of preloved treasures that you wouldn’t necessarily find anywhere else and should not be overlooked. I have found some absoute beauties in the strangest of places – In Plett recently – the most wonderful 2nd hand book shop or Hermanus, stanford, down the road. You just need some time and patience. Specialty stores now also stock books that are within the same genre and often these are very interesting finds that chain bookstores would not keep. Latsly i have found some real beauties at trade fairs like Decorex and the annual Home expos. I spend every available cent, and even some that are not available tragically, on books. My current absolute favourites (some old some new in my own collection are:
Annie Leibovitz- Photographs (a collection of her iconic photographs of celebrities and game changers) This extraordinary photographer belongs in any art lovers collection as far as i am concerned. She has taken portrait photography to a new level. Beloved by Vogue and all the top fashion magazines Annie’s work just keeps stretching and astonishing her audience.
Leading Ladies (Don MacPherson and Louise Brody) is a book I’ve had for years but will always be one of my all time favourites. Filled with black and white photos of starlets from the very beginning of cinema – The Silent Era’s Theda Bara and Evelyn Brent all the way through to the 1980’s Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer and Greta Scacchi’s – this book gives me endless inspiration.
In Detail – Inspiring Ideas for Creative Interiors (Hans Blomquist) is a new purchase of mine that I am loving. A designer with a keen sense of the little details that are often overlooked, this book is filled with the most wonderful close up images and deals with nature, texture, colour, textiles, collections and display. Its artisanal eye candy!!
Botanicum – (curated by Katie Scott and Kathy Wills) I am obsessed with old fashioned botanical prints. Obsessed! So this books with its extraordinary artistic renderings just does my business. Enough said.
Parisiennes – (Flammarion) is another coffee table book of images of Parisiennes living life from 1914 to the early 1980’s. From socialites, the Coco Chanels’ of the world through to anonymous ladies in the park walking with parambulators. The book is entirely in French – I bought it while in Paris and its all about the images for me rather than improving my French comprehension which remains marginal. I drove my partner mad because by the time we got to the airport I was so weighed down with enormous books in arms I could barely drag by suitcase behind me. What you gonna do? I also bought a beautiful book on that same trip in Amsterdam called The Big book for Little Gardens – (John Brookes) well it means that but its all in Dutch. Dont care! Its all about the pictures.
There are a million more I would love to mention. Loving Style icons – a book on the south african style icons of the early 21st century. Perfect Hideaways (Paul Duncan) first coffee table book with extraordinary images of some of the magnificent homes that are available locally for short term holiday lets. Looking forward to Volume 2 – hint hint is anyone from PH is reading this! Henri Cartier Bresson’s coffee table books make me want to weep with their beauty, Sebastiao Salgado’s Migrations, One2One, Anything on Gaudi, Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Interiors (the shabby chic bible)
Cookery books are also a passion of mine. No collection is complete without Delia Smith’s How to Cook. I am also a fan of Secrets of a French Cooking Class by Marlene Van Der Westhuizen. Filled with the most sumptious photographs of both her food and the magnificent French Village of Charroux that she takes her students to for their education. Marlene is a Capetonian whose heart belongs somewhere between home and the cobble stones of the french countryside. Even Gwyneth Paltrow’s book – It’s All Good has the most wonderful and healthy recipes and beautiful photographs as has The Fresh Vegan Kitchen (David and Charlotte Bailey) and Fresh India (Meera Sodha)
Initially I had intended this blog to cover books in total. Ha ha!!Rather ambitious of me but its such a vast topic that I can only begin to chat about Coffee Table books really and mostly the ones that get my juices flowing – and only a tiny fraction of those!!. I would love to hear about books that move you. As always I would Love to hear from you and hope that this has been a fun read. let me know!! In the follwing blogs we’ll look at the other must haves – Music, Flowers, food, wine. See you soon.