Home Style from New Mexico to Texas
By Babs Rodriguez
We’ve done a lot of reading in the last couple of years, a period during which (not surprisingly) authors have done a lot of writing. That makes us happy, especially when their books fit so neatly between bookends on our “architecture and interior” shelves. Writer Helen Thompson (the former Texas Monthly editor has relocated from Austin to Santa Fe) is one of those wordsmiths who put the pandemic to good use. The author of Marfa Modern: Artistic Interiors of the West Texas High Desert and Texas Made Texas Modern: The House and the Land this month caps her trilogy with the publication of Santa Fe Modern: Contemporary Design in the High Desert. She also wrapped up a collaboration on the newest publication from San Antonio/Austin-based architecture firm Lake|Flato. And, as we struggle to accommodate our growing book collection, we are inspired by Interiors for Collectors by John Phifer Marrs. The Dallas interior designer, noted for his “New Southern” style, knows a thing or two about housing collections of all shapes, sizes and pedigrees. He shares a look inside his own home — and admits he once had more plates on his walls than in his pantry. Whether you’re considering building a house or organizing one, we think you’ll find some fresh ideas in these books.
Lake | Flato Houses: Respecting the Land
Thirty years of designs imbued with a sense of place — both geographically and spiritually — is the San Antonio/Austin-based architecture firm’s claim to fame. Grounded designs begin with contemplative site evaluations and always evolve with respect for the landscape the structure will call home. On an equally pragmatic level, the environment informs the ways the home fosters the lifestyle of its residents. The result: houses that are environmentally conscious, definitively contemporary and artfully rooted in sustainable beauty. Lake | Flato Houses: Respecting the Land showcases residences built from 2014 to 2020 in stunning locations. Especially insightful for readers is how the firm handles client wishes (often evolving) and aspirations. The solutions to construction challenges, including the innovative use of local materials — often in partnership with regional craftsmen — are both readable and eye-opening. The monograph (look for a late October release) is edited by architecture book publisher Oscar Riera Ojeda. It includes architectural drawings and five chapters — On Land, On Living, On Building, On Detailing and On Resources — along with project descriptions by interior and architecture writer Helen Thompson.
Santa Fe Modern
The final volume of author Helen Thompson’s “Modern” trilogy arrives filled with the sort of comfortably contemporary homes and lean interiors the author is known for finding, exploring and deconstructing for our voyeuristic delight. But most exciting, this is the first book-length overview of modernist and contemporary architecture and interiors in the city best known for its historic adobes. As in Marfa Modern and Texas Made Texas Modern, Santa Fe Modern: Contemporary Design in the High Desert also features perfectly balanced and magically illuminated images from photographer Casey Dunn. Fans of Santa Fe’s storied historic appeal can relax; within the boldness, there is a familiarity. Traditional architecture is here, but it’s layered and tweaked in new ways. The recognizable portals, porches, courtyards and, yes, adobe bricks, are newly married to steel and glass in happily-ever-after proportions suited to the landscape and the climate. New Mexican modern is a uniquely contemporary design aesthetic that aficionados of the history and architecture of The City Different will want to explore.
Interiors for Collectors
A poorly executed display can diminish the beauty of even the most exquisite object. To create the best effect, a lot comes into play — editing, organization, lighting, balance, context. The layered thought process appears to be second nature to John Phifer Marrs. In his new book, the Dallas interior designer offers insight on his signature ways to beautifully display prized objects, satisfying collectors and wishful readers. An expert on antiques and a collector himself, Marrs works with clients who solicit his wisdom as they build museum-worthy collections in homes ranging from classic to eclectic (including several in Fort Worth). Sealing the deal, he designs walls, rooms and dedicated spaces for the display of figurines, porcelains, paintings, plates, sculptures or any treasures in need of a welcoming home. Beyond savvy advice, the author’s passion for collecting is on full display in anecdotes and photos.