When we invited Alex Tieghi-Walker to contribute to the Bookshelf feature we didn’t realise he was in possession of what basically constitutes a library. A looming wall of books, teeming with colour, insight and inspiration. Look at it! It’s enormous!
We shouldn’t be surprised, really – as the founder of The Anonymous Sex Journal, a printed magazine which publishes secretly submitted sex stories, and now editor-in-chief of Airbnb’s Pineapple magazine, he has a wealth of references to tap. Here he is showing us around his favourite publications, including a guide to handmade houses, geometry in architecture and an awe-inspiring if nerdy collection of shells.
Art Boericke and Barry Shapiro: Handmade Houses: A Guide to the Woodbutcher’s Art
I bought this at Press: Works on Paper, a print portal to paradise in San Francisco. I’m in awe of people who commit to building their own house. Imagine how much more you would feel at home if you’d spent a decade cobbling it all together! We were always given the unrestrained technological promise of kit housing at low-cost, but this didn’t really come to fruition; this book looks at the people who actually managed to make it work by stitching together reclaimed materials to build homes, tea houses, follies and saunas. I spent some childhood years living in rural Wales in a very DIY community, and when I travel I try to find more unusual Airbnb domestic situations and people like those featured in the book; two weeks ago I stayed on a boat in Amsterdam that the owner, Lars, had rescued from the bottom of the harbour and refitted using bric-a-brac he’d found in the canals.
Siegried Ebeling: Space as Membrane
This book is a thicket of deep, creative theory that explores fundamentals of architecture and human interaction. Where does science cross over to the domestic sphere and what ecologies do we create with and within our own homes? It’s dense reading (though beautifully broken up by Ebeling’s transfixing illustrations), but what’s amazing – and why I’m constantly intrigued by this book – is that the text is unedited content from Ebeling’s essays written as a Bauhaus student in 1926; he looks in to a future that mirrors the environmental concerns facing the earth today. It makes me giddy to think that someone was so, so sharp that they might be more relevant today than they were 90 years ago. With Pineapple, we aim to explore how communities connect with each other, but also the built world around them; this book feels very relevant.
Ida Geary: Marin Trails
I spend a lot of time in San Francisco and what I love most about the city is the ease with which you can access nature; once over the Golden Gate Bridge you are in near-complete wilderness. I’m obsessed with the natural landscape of Northern California: the microclimates of Marin County create an impressive landscape of Douglas fir and desert-like chaparral higher up. I’ve only followed five of the 21 trails in this book, which also include journeys to make on water. One trail I did last autumn involved taking a canoe from the College of Marin Marine Station and paddling across the Bolinas lagoon to Kent Island. You can see the moving traffic on far-off Highway One, but you can’t hear it – it’s like watching a movie with the soundtrack off. I like little travel books that teach you about the things you see, hear, touch and smell on your way.
William Blackwell: Geometry in Architecture
I love this one so much; it’s visual mayhem and actually functions more as a what’s what of shapes and form than anything architectural. Sub-textually, it explores the more poetic motions of building, but really I flick through the pages and see a scrapbook of incredible images of the natural and manmade: gaudy Vegas hotel complexes paired with termite hills; constellations, minerals, plants, Fibonacci sequences, honeycombs! The Milky Way! Conch shells, spider webs, basalt pillars, fractals! It’s nerdy but pretty.
The Whitney Museum of American Art: Calder’s Circus
It’s so clever that someone can tinker such life and energy into pipe cleaners. I remember first seeing Calder’s wiry characters in a show at the Pompidou in my mid-teens, though this book was actually given to me by a friend many years later. Calder spent several decades from the mid-1920s building this bizarre troupe of people and animals: bent wire and steel are mechanised into the forms of lion tamers, tightrope walkers, boxing kangaroos and gymnasts. I love the creativity he applied to simple, everyday items, scraps, to create a fully kinetic dreamland. His cows and pigs are seemingly created as swiftly as Picasso’s light drawings.
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