Dadaist advertisements, Noguchi's small objects, the serial products (and philosophy) of a modern-day French designer, plus a tributo to Italo Rota

After the hangover of the Salone del Mobile and the Milanese Design Week, this year with dizzying numbers regarding the influx of visitors, it's nice to go back to the bookshop (and to the cinema too) with a volume that - through the sets and sketches of the brutalist designer Ken Adam - takes us straight to the unique atmosphere of the spy films of the Sixties.

Also not to be missed is the essay just published on that great communications genius who was Armando Testa and which, together with the books dedicated to Alvar Aalto and Isamu Noguchi, takes us to the heart of the twentieth century.

To finally arrive at the imperfections of Inga Sampé and the reflections of the great Italo Rota.

1. The imperfect house of Inga Sampé, edited by Massimo Sammicheli (Electa, 35 euros)

For Inga Sempé, industrial designer born in Paris and creator of serial collections for companies such as Luceplan, Cappellini, Edra, Baccarat or Ligne Roset, the first duty of a designer is above all to "contribute to the evolution of society with conscious attitudes that respect man and the environment through durable objects".

This is why Inga Sampé does not design display pieces but products for mass production, armchairs, lamps or towel rails, conceived to last over time, also thanks to a contemporary and universal language.

The opportunity to better understand his particular design poetics comes today from an exhibition and from the freshly printed book The imperfect house, a little wise and a bit of catalogue of the exhibition just inaugurated at the Triennale di Milano (open to the public until 15 September 2024). Enriched with drawings, photographs and interviews, a volume that very well describes Inga Sempé's philosophy and her desire to develop new forms and functions against all sorts of laziness.

Who will like it Who is interested in exploring the super current theme of taking inspiration from the small gestures of "everyday life". Perhaps accompanied by critical texts by Giampiero Bosoni, Megan Dinius de Kalbermatten, Laura Maggi, Massimo Orsini, Eugenio Perazza, Marco Sammicheli, Inga Sempé, Patrizia Vicenzi and Pilar Viladas.

2. The Ken Adam Archive, AA.VV. (Ed. Taschen, 850 euros)

It is said that a good film set designer must be an architect, a designer, a painter, an engineer and a visionary at the same time. Without a doubt Ken Adam was this but, above all, a highly cultured visionary.

Considered one of the giants of brutalist scenography, Ken Adam went down in history as the architect of cinematic satire on the Cold War, the inspirer of marvelous technological lairs of the adversaries of James Bond and Stanley Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove, places that contributed to creating the futuristic (and ironic) aesthetics of the struggle between the East and West blocs.

This precious book just published by Taschen traces his work through sketches, concepts and precious photographs from his private archive, now preserved by Deutsche Kinemathek.

Who will like it A collector's volume (also important in price) that will appeal to creatives and cinephiles who are passionate about action films of the Sixties, from "007-License to Kill" to " 007-You only live twice”, via Stanley Kublick.

3. Alvar Aalto by Philippe Trétiack and Isamu Noguchi by Marion Bley (Johan & Levi, 20 euros each)

The last two new monographs published in the series "The amateur's library", which the publisher Johan & Levi of Milandedicates to the iconic figures of the 20th century, in collaboration with the French publisher Les Arènes.

The volume dedicated to Alvar Aalto, with an unpublished work by the Finnish architect himself and a text by Philippe Trétiack, retraces his human and professional stages, from his studies in Helsinki to his travels in Italy, by Alvar Aalto.

The essay that the journalist Marion Bley dedicated to the Japanese sculptor, designer, architect and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, however, is a real journey between tradition and modernity. Therefore faithful to the life of Noguchi, a sensitive soul perpetually divided between Japan and the United States.

Who will like it Students and scholars of the 20th century, a very rich historical moment which, having just left it behind us, perhaps we still have to fully understand.

4. Portable cosmology by Italo Rota and Valentina Ciuffi (Quodlibet, 23 euros)

«Stopping using one thing means using others, perhaps inventing others. Old recipes are not useful for new diseases, and this is very liberating." Thus wrote the architect and designer Italo Rota in a book which is certainly not new (the first edition dates back to 10 years ago) but which, a few weeks after its premature death, it is really worth rereading.

Co-author (together with Fabio Fornasari) of the “Museo del 900” in Milan and of the Expo pavilions in Milan, Zaragoza and Dubai, “hyper-critical ecologist” and very attentive designer to the possibilities offered by the use of Artificial Intelligence, Italo Rota leaves colleagues, journalists and enthusiasts the testimony of a unique perspective: poetic, artistic and practical at the same time.

Inserting this book, a small journey into the complexity of Italo Rota's lively creative cosmogony, is intended as a small homage to one of the most interesting personalities in architecture and design of the last twenty years.

Who will like it Creatives of all ages, attracted by a vision of the world always capable of combining utopia and technology to arrive at sustainable, reversible and environmentally friendly projects.

5. Armando Testa, edited by Gemma De Angelis Testa, Tim Marlow, Elisabetta Barisoni (Silvana Editoriale, 36 euros)

Blue hippos, totems of red lacquer spheres, cone-shaped women, elephants on wheels: it is the "Dadasta" reality seen through the eyes of Armando Testa, the Turin artist and advertiser who shaped the collective imagination of Italians over the last century through figures and slogans that have become iconic.

This book, edited by his wife, finally offers an in-depth look at the multifaceted artistic production that has made him one of the protagonists of contemporary visual culture, creator of famous iconic figures, from advertising messages to promotion cultural.

A volume that gives the reader the value of Armando Testa as a painter, sculptor, designer and creator of infinite suggestions condensed in an unexpected synthesis which, seen all together, become tools that they also tell a little about who we were and who we have become.

Who will like it Who wants to retrace the roots of modern advertising and be inspired by the greatest. The opportunity to discover why the products, passed through the pen of Armando Testa, from simple objects (a cup of coffee, a bitter, a tyre) have transformed into paradigms of mass culture.