Reading advice for design lovers: five books not to be missed to start 2023 in style

Five latest novelties, including titles recently released or fresh off the press for enthusiasts, experts or newbies, of architecture and design.

A path that begins with the reprints of great classics such as the essay by Viktor Papanek to arrive at the monographs of contemporary architects such as Jean New. Below, five short reviews to orient yourself among the latest publications.

  • Design for the Real World by Viktor Papanek, ed. Quodlibet (24 euros, in bookstores or online at

More than 50 years after the first publication, Design for the Real World (translated into 23 languages) by the Austrian-born designer Viktor Papanek, the pioneer of 'social design' who died in 1998, he remains a fundamental point of reference for designers and architects.

The sacred text to reflect on the impact of industrial design on the planet.

A book to discover or to reread, for breadth of vision, incisive writing and - in the face of the current climate disaster - to understand what 'responsible design' is.

Because, as Papanek said: «Every man is a designer. Everything we do is almost always design, precisely because design is the basis of every human activity».

With the help of the beautiful illustrations by Giulia Renzi, Maria Chiara Virgili, author of the famous podcast Dannati architects, retraces the history of Western architecture with rhythm and lightness from the industrial revolution to today.

A 400-page journey to discover the protagonists, styles, trends but also the behind-the-scenes of modern and contemporary architecture.

Which, due to the daily habit we have of it, we sometimes stop seeing. The right book to understand something of the vast and very rich world of architecture.

  • Jean Nouvel by Jean Nouvel. 1981–2022, by Jean Nouvel and Philip Jodidio, ed. Taschen (150 euros, in bookstores or online at

The updated and complete re-edition of the monograph on Jean Nouvel released 15 years ago, edited by the same architect, winner of the 2008 Pritzker Prize and one of the most important and original contemporary designers, author of works such as the Fondation Cartier and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris and of the art historian Philip Jodidio.

An monster-volume of 800 pages with more than 25 recent projects such as the 82-story 53W53 tower in New York, the Duo Towers in Paris and the Shanghai Pudong Art Museum and works in progress such as the spectacular Sharaan Desert Resort, a hotel that will be carved out of the sandstone rock in the Al-'Ula desert in Saudi Arabia.

For those who want to exaggerate, there is also a super-luxury version of the book in a limited edition: 200 copies signed by Jean Nouvel and with a print of a drawing by him. The cost? 1250 euros.

The reissue with restyling of these three monographs by Electa dedicated to three architectural masterpieces is the prelude to a new series entirely dedicated to the work of Carlo Shoe.

An elegant series, with new photographs commissioned ad hoc, the original horizontal format that allows you to better reproduce the drawings of the Venetian architect and the covers characterized by a refined choice of colors stolen from the palettes of Japanese painters Ukyo-e, much loved by Scarpa.

A homage eagerly awaited by all architecture enthusiasts, for whom Carlo Scarpa, who died in 1978, is an authentic legend.

  • Tales of interiors. Designer houses of the twentieth century by Lorenzo Pennati and Chiara Dal Canto, Rizzoli Illustrati, 65 euros (in bookstores or online at

Ten 'designer interiors' projects by big names such as Ettore Sottsass, Gae Aulenti, Pietro Barnaba Fornasetti and Carlo Scarpa, who become in this volume 10 'manifesto cases' of the history of architecture and design of the twentieth century, between the post-war period and the 2000s.

A roundup of residential or work spaces that are representative of an era, a style, a personality. And that the photographs of Lorenzo Pennati can tell beautifully.

Cover photo: Oode Library, Helsinki