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Monthly Design Review - February 2016

In this monthly feature, I share design-related books I picked up, articles and photo essays I read and exhibitions I frequented in hope of informing fellow designers and spreading the word on some great visual resources!

GONE: Photographs of Abandonment on the Great Plains - by Steve Fitch (2002)

New Mexico-based photographer Steve Fitch traveled the American High Plains photographing deserted towns. His photographs are distinguished for their natural colors, the play of light and shadow inside the distressed interiors and the pieces of history left behind. His photos are monuments to an idea of the pioneering plains, their promise and decline.

To see more photos from the book, alongside Fitch's other work, visit his website

To purchase the book go to Amazon or Photo-Eye Bookstore

Martin Rosswog: SCHULTENHÖFE (2005)

Schultenhöfe are large farms in the Münsterland area in Germany, built hundreds of years ago and still standing today. Jan Carstensen, a curator of an open-air museum in the Westphalia region, invited photographer Martin Rosswog to document 10 farmsteads still occupied and lovingly maintained by farmer families. The interesting combination of antique architecture and modern amenities exemplifies the meeting of past and present, beautifully captured in Rosswog‘s photos.

To see more photos from the book, alongside Martin Rosswog's beautiful photos of interiors around Europe, visit his website

To purchase the book go to Amazon USA, Amazon Germany or Amazon UK

THE HELLSCRAPER designed by Fernando Higueras

article by Arquitectura-G in Apartamento Magazine (autumn/winter 2015-2016)

This article in the last issue of Apartamento Magazine features the incredibly audacious private house by Spanish architect Fernando Higueras. Dubbed “Hellscraper“ for its existence entirely underground, the house was built by Higueras in 1972–4 as a personal refuge, but turned into his studio in years to come, and today is the headquarters of the Fernando Higueras Foundation. The article consists of interviews with two of Higueras‘ closest companions - his former assistant who was in charge of construction, and his life-partner who also ran his studio. They both reminisce about Higueras‘ bigger-than-life personality, the house's complex construction process and the special feeling of living underground.

To learm more about Fernando Higueras‘ house, read this article from Open House Madrid

To find out more about Apartamento Magazine, visit the magazine‘s website

IMMOBILE HOME - the story behind “The Lady in a Van“

article by Alan Bennett for The World of Interiors (December 2015 issue)

Playwright Alan Bennett, the author of “The Lady in the Van,“ writes about his interactions with an eccentric old lady who lived in a van outside his home for 15 years. The article is accompanied by photos of the real van and stills from the film based on Bennett's play, featuring the carefully-reconstructed interiors of the van. I'd like to mention my disappointment at the lack of acknowledgement of the film's production designer, John Beard, or his crew for their great work reproducing the van! I plan to email the magazine editors to express the importance of the production designer to that article and the story.

To read more about the film and its subject, go behind the scenes with Alan Bennett

To find out more about The World of Interiors, visit their website

SOUVENIR D'UN FUTUR - Photo Essay by Laurent Kronental (

The French photographer Laurent Kronental spent 4 years documenting Paris' large housing projects and their aging inhabitants. These grand structures with their futuristic elements at times eclipse their modest tenants, but the poetic photographs show the spaces personally carved and maintained by the these senior citizens.

To see more photos, visit Laurent Kronental‘s website

To see other photo essays, visit lensculture

ABGEDREHT! Stage Designs - Living Spaces - by Chaim Heinz Fenchel

(Exhibition at the Centrum Judaicum in Berlin, 02.10.2015 till 29.05.2016)

The designer Chaim Fenchel had a complex life-story: in the early 1930s he worked as an art director in the then world-renowned German film industry, designing lavish sets and flourishing as a sought-after set designer in the Weimar republic. His film career in Germany ended abruptly in 1933 when he was barred from working for being a Jew, thus he later emigrated to Palestine and settled in the thriving town of Tel-Aviv.

Knowing that he would be unable to continue working as a set designer in a country with no film industry, Fenchel turned to interior design and made a name for himself as an innovative designer of urban coffeehouses and stores. He later became famous for his designs for luxury hotels - not just in Israel, but also in West Africa, where he designed huge hotel-complexes.

The exhibition and accompanying catalogue show the various stages of Fenchel‘s life and work - from the extravagant film sets of the 1930s, through the early urbanity of the state of Israel, to the bold textures of the African hotels. Connecting all is a sense of creativity, drama, play and reinvention.

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