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InspirationOct 27, 2023

Design Books Gift Guide 2023 - Part III

The RGD Book Club has curated a gift guide of design books that will not only establish you as the gifting champion, but also elevate your recipient's creative soul.

Whether they're a seasoned architect, a typography fanatic, an aspiring illustrator, a digital-savvy creative or simply someone with an eye for aesthetics, we've got you covered.

In this design-centric era, books have transformed their roles as more than mere reading materials; they've evolved into works of art themselves. Our thoughtfully selected collection of design books goes beyond pretty covers and coffee table decorations. These are gateways to worlds of inspiration, innovation and imagination. 

For the creative world

Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty book cover

Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty

By Andrew Bolton
The Met Museum of Art, April 2023

In Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, Andrew Bolton masterfully displays Lagerfeld's iconic journey through fashion and design with stunning photographs and intelligent prose. Karl's transformative impact on haute couture and his endless pursuit of beauty are elegantly portrayed in this visual feast, a testament to Lagerfeld's enduring influence on the fashion realm. The book itself is a work of art crafted with a variety of textural papers and adorned with rich gold color. A must-experience for anyone seeking to understand the profound artistry that defined Karl's legendary 65-year career, spanning creative director roles at Fendi, Chloé, Chanel, and his eponymous label.

Fantasies: Carine Roitfeld Fashion Book cover

Fantasies: Carine Roitfeld Fashion Book

By Carine Roitfeld
Rizzoli, September 2023

Fantasies: Carine Roitfeld Fashion Book is an indulgent but honest exploration of fashion and its landscapes. The book begins with a foreword by Carine herself, describing her decision to part from Vogue after a 10-year run and to start her own company CR. The photo book features many familiar faces including Kate Upton (who is featured as CR's first model), Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Gigi Hadid, Lady Gaga, Megan Fox, Rihanna, and Zendaya, among others. The creative direction is lush and vibrant, and Carine and her circle’s commentary on some of the shoots makes the scenes come to life. This is a must-have for any fashion lover's coffee table.

Sofia Coppola Archive book cover

Sofia Coppola Archive

By Sofia Coppola
MACK, September 2023

A collection of letters, behind-the-scenes photography, and handwritten notes take you into Sofia Coppola’s world, all laid out by coordinated sections for each of her five films. Throughout the book, she explores what it means to have female experiences in a dreamy fashion, all the while challenging patriarchy. This archive is made for fans. Readers learn more about her working processes, including the exceptional methods, references, and collaborators for each of her films. A special edition signed copy of the book is also available, which features a signed and numbered print of a collage of two photographs by Sofia Coppola from behind-the-scenes of her latest movie, Priscilla (2023), released this fall.

Glass Houses book cover

Glass Houses

By Phaidon Editors
Phaidon, October 2023

Inspired by the modernist aesthetic of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Phaidon Editors curate a selection of Glass Houses: houses that celebrate the harmony between nature and architecture. Beautifully depicted, these Glass Houses are imbued with a sense of place through expansive photography and concise descriptions that transport you to the locations where these houses are built. Each of the case studies sheds light on how spaces can transform to invite the outside locations inward and celebrate the settings in which they are built. This is an excellent addition for anyone who loves modernist architecture.

The Atlas of Car Design book cover

The Atlas of Car Design

By Jason Barlow
Phaidon, September 2023

With stunning visuals and engaging insights, The Atlas of Car Design takes readers on a turbocharged ride from classic beauties to futuristic marvels. This book isn't just a joyride; it's a meticulously-crafted roadmap of design innovation. Whether you're an auto or an art enthusiast, this atlas fuels fascination with the artistry and engineering driving the world of cars. Buckle up and enjoy the thrilling ride through the evolution of automotive design.

Arranging Things book cover

Arranging Things

By Colin King
Rizzoli New York, March 2023

Arranging Things by Colin King is a gentle exploration of the art of arrangement. With careful intentions, Colin delves into the meticulous craft of organizing objects, revealing the hidden stories they tell. From cluttered chaos to graceful order, this book is a delightful journey through the aesthetics of everyday surroundings. His prose is as beautifully composed as the subjects he dissects, making this an easy read for anyone who appreciates the subtle art of harmonious placement. Observe the world of arranging things and discover the magic that lies in the organization of our lives.

Unfolding book cover


By Matthew Shlian
Thames & Hudson, February 2023

Matthew Shlian is an artist, paper engineer, and founder of the Initiative Artist Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His work extends from drawings to large-scale installations to collaborations with leading researchers and scientists. Unfolding documents the world of folding technology, the intricate complexities of Islamic patterns, and the sheer potential offered by a single sheet of white paper. This book is truly a celebration of one of the world’s most humble materials.

Aino + Alvar Aalto book cover

Aino + Alvar Aalto

By Heikki Aalto-Alanen
Phaidon, September 2023

In Aino + Alvar Aalto, Heikki Aalto-Alanen exposes the harmonious synergy of two design legends. With profound insights and fascinating visuals, he paints a vivid portrait of their enduring partnership. This book is not just a biography; it's a love story between creativity and functionality.

The Art of Kinfolk book cover

The Art of Kinfolk

By John Burns
Artisan Books, October 2023

The Art of Kinfolk by John Burns is a captivating compilation of Kinfolk magazine's 50 issues, immersing readers in the beauty of community, creativity, and the art of slow living. Through exquisite photography and thoughtful storytelling, it celebrates authentic connections, shared meals, and the joy of simplicity. This book inspires a deeper appreciation for meaningful moments, fostering a sense of togetherness and embracing the essence of a richer, more fulfilling life.

The Plain Cake Appreciation Society book cover

The Plain Cake Appreciation Society

By Tilly Pamment
Allen & Unwin, July 2023

The Plain Cake Appreciation Society is a sweet culinary adventure through the simple yet extraordinary world of plain cakes. With a delightful blend of heartwarming stories, humor, and delectable recipes, Tilly creates a charming narrative. The book is adorned with beautiful photographs that showcase cakes in all their glory. Adding to the visual charm is the elegant typeface by VJ Type, elevating the book's aesthetics to a gorgeous level. Tilly's narratives are not only a treat for the palate but also a feast for the eyes, making this book a multi-sensory must-read for baking enthusiasts and typographic connoisseurs alike, one delicious slice at a time.

Iris van Herpen Sculpting the Senses book cover

Iris van Herpen Sculpting the Senses

By Iris van Herpen
Lannoo Publishers, November 2023

Iris van Herpen's "Sculpting the Senses" offers a captivating exploration of the intersection of fashion, art, and technology. The book showcases Iris' avant-garde creations that transcend traditional boundaries. Through compelling visuals and insightful narratives, it captures the essence of her groundbreaking work. Each page serves as a sensorial delight, illustrating the evolution of her designs and the innovative processes reshaping haute couture. It's a must-read that provides a tactile and visual feast, highlighting Iris's visionary impact on shaping the future of fashion.

Including Part I and Part II, with these 31 thoughtful and inspiring design books, we hope you spread the joy of creativity generously. May your gifting be as beautifully designed as the pages within these books!

The Design Books Gift Guide 2023 is lovingly assembled by The RGD Book Club Committee, a trio of passionate bibliophiles and dedicated writers, volunteering diligently to ignite your creativity.

Written by:

  • Literary Maven: Esther Sunghee Byun RGD
  • Bibliophile Dynamo: Bianca Jozwiak RGD
  • Bookworm Virtuoso: Rupsha Mutsuddi Provisional RGD

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