Cars: Accelerating the Modern World
Edited by Brendan Cormier and Elizabeth Bisley, Abrams, V&A, RRP£30/$45
The show at the V&A might have shut early, a victim of the lockdown, but the most fascinating elements are all in here. This is not a fetishisation of form like most car/design volumes but rather a much more nuanced look at how the modern world was shaped by the car from mass manufacture to cities, labour relations, fashion and globalisation.
Jonny Trunk (foreword by Jarvis Cocker), Fuel, RRP£24.95
A breathtaking shot of nostalgia straight into the veins for someone of my generation, this collection of sweet, pop and crisp wrappers is a brain burst of sugary, guilt-free fun. There are bubblegum packs with free tattoos and defunct candies which evoke the sweet smells and sensations of long childhood summers and simple yearnings. Forget madeleines, remember Bazooka bubblegum, Cresta (it’s frothy man), chocolate cigarettes and Space Dust?
Survey of London: Oxford Street
Andrew Saint, Yale University Press, RRP£75
Oxford Street is not the obvious candidate for an architectural study. Who, after all, lingers any longer than they have to in London’s worst thoroughfare? Yet this brilliant volume traces the development of modern retail, the architectural ambition, the lost masterpieces and the sheer eclectic verve of the West End’s premier avoidable site. The latest volume in the exhaustive and consistently brilliant survey of London, there is nothing quite like it.
Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa and the Middle East in the Cold War
Łukasz Stanek, Princeton University Press, RRP£50/$60
One of the untold stories in architecture is the impact of eastern European architects on the newly postcolonial countries of West Africa and the Middle East. The new cities were built by architects from both the former imperial capitals and by eastern European architects brought in by regimes keen to avoid relying on their former colonisers. The city planning was sophisticated and the architecture often stunningly ambitious as the architects were given a freer reign than they might have had at home. A fascinating snapshot of a historic moment in which the future was in flux.
Edited by Susannah Charlton and Elain Harwood, Batsford, RRP£25
Perhaps the lockdown has made us more conscious of gardens, public space and the landscape as well as our interiors. This enjoyable and colourful guided tour through landscapes from the Arts and Crafts via the Barbican to Derek Jarman’s Dungeness cottage might make an enticing gazetteer for a summer spent closer to home than usual.
All this week, FT writers and critics choose their favourites — from politics, economics, science and history to art, tech, food and wellness. Novels, poetry and audiobooks feature too. Explore the series here
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