Phaidon made its reputation with big books. Back in the 1990s, titles such as The Art Book and The Fashion Book were so arresting that you had to have them on your coffee table and so wittily put together that they never became wholly embarrassing. These surveys of entire genres followed a simple formula: one subject per page, with a big photograph and a short description. It is now the turn of interior design to undergo this treatment, only this time Phaidon has broken the mould and called it not ‘The Interiors Book’ but Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century, though one might justly ask which century the title refers to.
Interiors are supposed to be very personal, and for some people even the idea of an interior designer seems like an act of depersonalisation. When it comes to this, Interiors represents a bit of a juggling act: sometimes the text focuses on designers, sometimes on clients. As anyone who has worked in interiors will tell you, the client can be just as important as the designer, so perhaps that is fair. The rooms that the editor, William Norwich, has chosen for inclusion are those that ‘people inside the international style firmament talk about when they talk about interior design and decoration’.
The list of names is stellar and some of the rooms are exquisite. As in The Art Book and The Fashion Book, the entries are arranged alphabetically. This might, at first glance, seem like a lazy approach, but it has the benefit of throwing up some fascinating conjunctions.