Are your coffee table books pretentious?

For the recurring series, That’s Debatable, we tackle a controversial topic of the day and present two fiery arguments, one in favor and the other categorically opposed. The previous episodes of the series are here.

NO, COFFEE TABLE BOOKS ARE A GOOD REPLACEMENT FOR FINANCIALLY OUT OF REACH ART

These days, Inspiration seekers may scroll Instagram more often than they flip through bound volumes, but some interior designers insist that coffee table books are more popular than ever. “I’ve never had a client tell me they don’t want it,” said Kricken Yaker, co-founder and lead designer of Vanillawood in Lake Oswego, Oregon. “As a designer, I think coffee table books are still very relevant because they can tell the story of who you are.

Some designers argue that table books are a reasonably priced substitute for expensive art.


Photo:

living4media / Stokes, James

Lee Kaplan, owner of Arcana: Books on the Arts in Culver City, Calif., Plans to collect table books as well as building a personal art collection. “We do a lot of business with architects and interior designers. Because of the importance of these books and what they represent, people want to display them in their homes, ”he said.

Mr Kaplan notes that his clients often ask for the Taschen monograph on 1980s artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, or anything that features Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt, who has designed houses for famous clients. such as Calvin Klein and Robert De Niro. Mr. Yacker saw a lot of interest in Rizzoli’s monograph on fashion designer Tom Ford. Customers who want to express their rebellious hearts fall for the Stephen Sprouse Book, a Rizzoli book dedicated to the punk and “graffiti covered” New York fashion designer.

Sam Gosling, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, has studied the relationship between personality and living spaces. He notes that people can rely on books as a legitimate way to project their passions. “If the book is more open, it might suggest that they have an intellectual curiosity for new and complex ideas.”

YES, A BOOK REDUCED TO THE DECORATION IS OF COURSE INTENDED ONLY TO IMPRESS.

Nothing says “I have never picked up this book in my life” more than a decorative bowl collecting dust on a tome, say opponents. And guests, who are most likely reluctant to move items on top of books, are also unlikely to peruse the folios, denying any argument that coffee table tomes make good social icebreakers.

Mr. Kaplan, who has seen picture books used like everything from the perch for a tray of appetizers to the landing spot for cigarette butts missing the ashtray, doesn’t think there is something wrong with buying books for purely decorative purposes. (He benefits from such sales, of course.) He would prefer, however, if they were seen as important repositories of knowledge, meant to be preserved and read.

Pointing to an Instagram post from a social media influencer who depicted her in lingerie posing in her closet against a shelf filled with precisely art, design and architecture books, Mr Kaplan said young people, in particular, seemed to “see them as props …. They don’t buy them because they like books.”

Portland, Oregon, designer Allison Smith suggested that rather than reducing a book to a setting, you should find a more personal and authentic way to tell your story. “The best decoration elements come from experiences or trips you have had. I like to mix things my customers just loved in a store with things they’ve picked up throughout their lives.

On people whose coffee table books seem unread, Professor Gosling has a generous opinion. “It might suggest that their interests are more ambitious.”

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