5 Phaidon books Spencer Bailey really likes

The editor, journalist and incoming Phaidon editor-at-large on his pick of our architecture and design titles
Spencer Bailey. Photo by Saito Ogata
Spencer Bailey. Photo by Saito Ogata

Want to know about Kanye West’s vision for utopia? Or how science fiction informed Bjarke Ingels’ early career? Then ask Spencer Bailey. A writer, editor, journalist, and strategist, Bailey was previously the editor-in-chief of Surface magazine, where he profiled Kanye, Bjarke and many more. He has also contributed to The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and Bloomberg Businessweek, worked at the Daily Beast, and now he’s just been appointed as editor-at-large at Phaidon, covering architecture and design. So what kind of books might Spencer end up working on? Well, perhaps something a little like this handful of recent hits, which are Bailey’s favorite Phaidon titles. Here’s why he likes them.


Sam Hecht and Kim Colin: Industrial Facility

Industrial Facility “Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of the London-based design studio Industrial Facility are among my favorite practicing designers today. Their understanding of how to create beautiful, functional, minimal—and most importantly, highly tactile—objects for everyday use is so rare. And much-needed. I store this book, which is the first-ever to document their rich body of work, under the coffee table in my living room. It has become a constant reference point.”


Stephen Shore and Tina Barney: The Noguchi Museum: A Portrait

The Noguchi Museum: A Portrait “I joined the board of the Noguchi Museum in Queens in fall 2015, and when this book came out, I was overjoyed. I’ve long been a fan of Stephen Shore’s work, and it does not disappoint in these pages. In fact, Shore’s pictures provide a quite unexpected and intimate conversation with Noguchi’s sculptures. Tina Barney’s photos at the museum inspire and illuminate, too. I frequently give this book as a gift to friends.”


Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Works

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Works “I once did a live talk with Ronan Bouroullec in which he mentioned his appreciation of both Donald Judd and Marfa, Texas. I immediately imagined how incredible it would be if the Bouroullec brothers created their own version of Marfa. Until they do so, though, I’ll make do with this comprehensive monograph, which beautifully showcases the wide breadth of their projects for clients such as Alessi, Vitra, and Flos alongside archival images and other studio ephemera.”


Jonathan Olivares: A Taxonomy of Office Chairs

A Taxonomy of Office Chairs “The Los Angeles–based designer Jonathan Olivares, who put this masterful, painstakingly detailed book together, has become a good friend. (He also edited another Phaidon title, on Richard Sapper.) What I’ve come to realize about Olivares is that he has an innate skill to quietly mine the past for nuggets that reveal on some level how we got to where we are now.”

“A Taxonomy of Office Chairs is a herculean survey that begins in the 1840s and finishes in 2011, the book’s publication year. There is no other book on furniture quite like this one, so deep and so thorough.”


John Pawson: A Visual Inventory

John Pawson: A Visual Inventory “I follow John Pawson’s Instagram account daily—okay, obsessively—and this book helps explain why: his brilliant eye. The British designer is known around the world for his interiors and buildings, which are ethereal havens of contemplation. And his pictures bring a similar sensibility to bear. In this book of more than 230,000 digital photographs, Pawson’s vision for space, nature, architecture, lines, color, light and shadow, patterns, weather, and more is on full display, with captions to provide greater meaning and much-welcome context.”

To pick your own favorites from our store, browse the design titles here and the architecture titles here.

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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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