by Graeme Brooker. Laurence King, October 2013. 256 p. ill. ISBN 9781780672687 (cl.), $50.00.

Reviewed March 2014
Barbara Opar, Architecture Librarian, Syracuse University,

Books on “interior decoration” (as the Library of Congress subject heading calls these titles) most often focus on decorative issues rather than programmatic ones. Graeme Brooker has written a book that approaches the topic differently and provides crucial background information for each, as well as schematic drawings and well-placed photographs, making the book highly useful to architects as well as designers.

The premise of Key Interiors since 1900 is a presentation of “archetypal forms of interior architecture and design” (p.6), however, at the same time each is an example of re-use. The author divides the book into chapters by function, ranging from topics like domestic space to retail and finally “culture.” Each chapter includes notable and familiar interiors as well as newer less well-known transformations. The formula the author follows aids in the clarity of presentation. After a general introduction and background information on the specific type of interior, he then selects notable examples. Brooker follows a pattern in how he approaches each examining context, concept, organization. and detail. The entries for each of these categories are informative, adding substantive, easy-to-absorb summaries which help the reader to understand why the example was chosen.

Brooker starts with the idea of “home” and begins with the iconic Maison de Verre and ends with the lesser-known converted Glenlyon church in Victoria, Australia from 2004, a far different refurbishment in both design and function. The following chapter deals with “work” and includes Enric Miralles’s La Llauna School, a printing factory transformed into a boys’ school; a later work by the same architect concerns the reworking of several old buildings into a town hall. The remaining four chapters focus on social spaces and primarily depict retail stores, restaurants, and museums focusing on “shop,” “display,” and “leisure.” In the final chapter, which is focused on “culture,” Brooker examines Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art library. The iconic and well-known examples in the text are depicted along with information not readily found elsewhere; the lesser known examples he uses include often hard-to-find documentation.

But familiar or not, the manner in which Brooker describes the specific interiors significantly adds to our understanding of the impact of interior design on space. Key Interiors since 1900 manages to incorporate a great deal of information in less than 300 pages. The drawings are very legible, the color good, and the layout well-done. This book is highly recommended and appropriate for academic libraries with degree programs in architecture and/other design disciplines.

© 2014 ARLIS/NA

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