Two C20 architecture/design books really stood out for me in 2012, and I’d recommend both very highly. They’d both look substantial under a Christmas tree.
The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew Modern Pots, Colonialism, and Counterculture by Tanya Harrod, has a fabulous title (presumably designed to attract as broad a readership as possible). It’s an excellent life of British studio potter Michael Cardew (1901-1983) who trained with the legendary Bernard Leach, before attempting to establish a local tradition of stoneware in West Africa (very fraught). It’s good on his pots, his idealism, his unusual private life and his passion to put his ideas into action. The images shows the prottery buildings he built at Ajuba.
Concrete and Culture A Material History, by Adrian Forty will get the full review it deserves in the next magazine. It’s a book that might convert the sceptic and will certainly largely please the concrete enthusiast. It’s very broad ranging, looking at concrete in the context of history, nature, religion, politics, photography, labour and even labour relations. It’s particually good on films that depict concrete, and the impact they have had.