1 of 16
Coffee Table Curator: March 2016

Mapplethorpe Flora: The Complete Flowers, Phaidon, 175 USD

Robert Mapplethorpe might be most well-known for his provocative photographs of the human body, but his endeavor deals with something even more natural. In 1973, Mapplethorpe began making photos of flowers—orchids, roses, daisies, tulips, et al.—in his New York studio as a way to hone his skills with light and exposure. Until his death, he continued the carefully-constructed flora images, which were often imbued with art historical references. This beautifully slipcased book features nearly 300 images from this series, while simultaneously providing great insight into Mapplethorpe's fascination and unique perception of physical beauty.

Bill Jacobson: Place (Series), Radius Books, 60 USD

Upon first glance, Bill Jacobson's Place (Series) is a fascinating juxtaposition between variously-sized rectangles in natural settings. Beyond the geometric aesthetics, however, is something far more poignant. "From 1989 through 2003 my photographs were defocussed, or as some call them, blurred," Jacobson tells us. "This resulted in never having a true straight line or right angle. Then, a decade ago, the work shifted and became incredibly sharp and highly focused, and I began examining the built, constructed world," he continues. He realized the rectangle is the basis of construction, and although his work is often considered abstract, he says, "five years into the project, I consider the rectangle to be as real as a tree, a body or a house."

Jacobson says he also aims to evoke questions about perception and what comprises an image. "The Place (Series) suggests that all structures, pictures, and objects are a mix of conscious and unconscious gestures," he says, "and are the result of an ongoing series of human decisions."

A Life in Fashion: The Wardrobe of Cecil Beaton, Thames & Hudson, 50 USD

Cecil Beaton might not be a household name for everyone, but enthusiasts of fashion photography and design should be acquainted with the Englishman's legendary career. On top of being a noted photographer, interior designer, and Academy Award-winning costume designer, Beaton's ever-evolving style became as synonymous to his satirical persona as his professional work. This book studies nearly every angle of Beaton's flamboyant style, ranging from his arrival at Cambridge University in the 1920s to receiving a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in the '70s. 

Surfing. 1778-2015. Taschen, 200 USD

Cowabunga, man! Totally tubular, dude! You may know the general ideas surrounding surfing and surf culture, but when it comes to the comprehensive history of the water sport, well, that might be another story. For those with curious minds or dedicated to the activity, this large and complex volume contains nearly every facet of information about the history of surfing, which began as early as 1778 in Tahiti. Bringing together over 900 images and numerous essays to chart its evolution as a sport, lifestyle, and philosophy—not to mention its influence on fashion, film, art, and music—the results are a wonderful tribute to all things surfing.

Oscar de le Renta, Prestel, 75 USD

When Oscar de la Renta passed away in 2014 it was a massive loss for the fashion community, as his modern and romantic designs were beloved by glamor icons, socialites, and celebrities around the world. As such, his legacy will undoubtedly live on forever, evidenced by this first historical survey of de la Renta's visionary career. Through thematic sections, the volume aptly combines images from the the Dominican-American designer's archives and thorough essays. Everything you would want to know about his process, art, and career is included, rendering Prestel's publication a must-read for any fashion enthusiast.

Volez Voguez Voyagez - Louis Vuitton, Rizzoli, 95 USD

This lavishly illustrated volume about Louis Vuitton's rich heritage includes new and archival photographs, original design sketches, and exploratory essays, while simultaneously serving as the catalogue for a coinciding exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. Split into nine sections and themes, Volez Voguez Voyagez journeys through the evolution and trajectory of Louis Vuitton's revolutionary designs, and how its quintessentially French tradition has influenced fashion as we know it.