8 Essential Design Books Every Interiors Lover Should Read


Whether you’re looking to brush up on the basic principles of good design or seeking some eye-candy inspiration, it’s always a good idea to stock up on design books. These classic tomes offer an aesthetic foundation for any interior designer’s toolkit, and are the perfect introductory education for anyone even just dabbling in the field.

By Ellen S. Fisher

The New York School of Interior Design wrote the book, quite literally, when it comes to the basics of decoration. Keep a copy of Home: The Foundations of Enduring Spaces (Clarkson Potter), written by NYSID dean Ellen Fisher, Ph.D., close by for whenever it’s time for a refresher on the fundamental concepts behind such grounding principles as the process of design.

By Elsie de Wolfe

Since 1913, The House in Good Taste: Design Advice From America’s First Interior Decorator (Dover Publications) has guided designers looking to cultivate their sense of taste with advice from none other than Elsie de Wolfe, the “first lady” of American interior design.

By Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman Jr.

Long before Edith Wharton published her tales of life in New York’s upper crust, she collaborated with the architect of her own Newport, Rhode Island, renovation, Ogden Codman Jr., on what would become her first published book: 1897’s The Decoration of Houses (Dover Publications). More than 100 years later, her advice still resonates: Keep it simple, don’t worry about trends, and feel free to take cues from the best examples you can find.

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By Mark Hampton

An aesthetic guide from one of the most famous interior designers of all time, On Decorating (Potter Style) offers a dissertation on interiors penned by Mark Hampton, the tastemaker who left his mark everywhere from the White House to the American Embassy in Paris. Since it was first published in 1989, On Decorating has inspired countless design professionals and enthusiasts to take risks when making spaces, with Hampton-approved strategies for approaching color, comfort, and, of course, elegance.

By David Batterham

Expand your visual vocabulary with The World of Ornament (Taschen), a primer to decorative patterns throughout history. Curated by antiquarian bookseller David Batterham, the book combines two 19th-century French collections of pattern and decoration into one richly illustrated sourcebook that breaks down the aesthetic principles behind everything from textiles to tiles to illustrated texts, with examples drawn from cultures ranging from ancient Egypt to the European Middle Ages and beyond.

By Phaidon Editors

When it comes to inspirational imagery, there’s little need to look further than Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century (Phaidon). Covering 400 spaces from around the world and representing the work of some 300 creatives, the collection highlights legendary designers past and present, from Billy Baldwin to Karim Rashid, while also offering a look at the private domestic spaces of such iconic stylemakers as Bill Blass and Peggy Guggenheim.

By Josef Albers

Few people are as closely associated with color theory as Josef Albers, the artist and educator known for his series of hue-on-hue square compositions. Albers was teaching graphic design at Yale when he published his influential guide to the principles of color theory in 1963. Featuring some 150 plates showcasing color relationships, Albers’s treatise on combining colors has been in print for more than half a century, most recently as Interaction of Color: 50th Anniversary Edition (Yale University Press).

By Charlotte & Peter Fiell

If a designer is only as good as her sources, 1000 Chairs (Taschen) is all you need for a one-stop crash course in the history of seating. From the craftsmanship of Charles Rennie MacKintosh to the Eameses’ early fiberglass experiments and the faceted creations of Konstantin Grcic, this field guide to famous chairs is more than just a designers’ dream sourcebook—it offers a world of inspiration for rethinking even the most everyday of objects around us.


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