Design Library Volume 06: Handcrafted Modern: At Home with Mid-century Designers
Category: Architecture / Design, Photography
Author + Photographer: Leslie Williamson
Publisher: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
The woven fabric cover of Handcrafted Modern is a fitting choice that nods to the book’s title and theme.
Leslie Williamson is a San Francisco-based photographer whose work has appeared in prestigious design and lifestyle magazines such as Dwell, Surface and Travel + Leisure. A fan of architectural history, particularly of Modernism, Leslie’s first book Handcrafted Modern: At Home with Mid-century Designers (2010) is simply the result of her own curiosity.
After visiting architect Albert Frey’s home – a beautiful example of mid-century modern design in Palm Springs – Leslie went away with this question: What would an architect build for himself, without the demands of a client upon him?
She looked to architectural literature for answers, but found that the book she wanted to read didn’t exist yet. So, like most creative and curious people, Leslie decided to write and photograph the book herself.
Handcrafted Modern is a 224 page hardcover book featuring 14 mid-century modern homes belonging to some of America’s most influential architects and designers, including Wharton Esherick, George Nakashima, Russell Wright, Harry Bertoia, and Charles and Ray Eames.
In an effort to document how these designers really live (or lived) on a day-to-day basis, Leslie shot only in homes where personal possessions were left largely intact (either the designer still lived there, or a museum was preserving the home as it was when the designed lived there). She shot each home with film for two full days, leaving rooms as she found them and using only natural light. As a result, the photographs featured in the book are more intimate, detailed and reflective of daily living than the images typically found in architecture books. Leslie’s photography fills the majority of Handcrafted Modern’s pages, but she breaks up the imagery with a personal account of her time shooting each home.
Building on the success of Handcrafted Modern, Leslie has been working on a second book: Modern Originals: At Home with Midcentury European Designers. The new publication will be out next month (April 8th), but you can catch a sneak peek of the book here!
Follow Leslie’s blog lesliewilliamsonphoto.blogspot.com to see more of her photography work.