Celebrating 50 Years of Beautiful Illustrated Books – Thames & Hudson Australia
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Words Rose Onans

The establishment of Thames & Hudson Australia in 1970 marked a decisive moment in Australian publishing. This year, Thames & Hudson Australia celebrates 50 years as the country’s leading publisher of beautiful illustrated books with the release of five diverse new titles on architecture, interiors, furniture, lighting and landscape design.

Over the past half-century, Thames & Hudson Australia has distributed an extensive catalogue of titles that represents a significant contribution to Australian culture. “I think 1970 probably qualifies as early pioneering days in Australian publishing; it was around the time that local publishers really began forging their own identity,” reflects Managing Director Daniel Watts. “In that regard, Thames & Hudson was there from the start, but with the particular mission of making the arts accessible to Australians through the book medium. Art galleries without walls.”

Over the past half-century, Thames & Hudson has distributed an extensive catalogue of titles that represents a significant contribution to Australian culture.

[Top left] Punchbowl Mosque. Architecture: Candalepas Associates. Photography: Brett Boardman. [Top right] Angel Street Terraces. Landscape design and architecture: Steele Associates. Photography: Christopher Frederick Jones. [Bottom] MMXX by Cameron Bruhn.

Thames & Hudson Australia established their own local publishing initiative in 2009, publishing books specifically designed for the Australian market. Five key books published recently, A Century of Colour in Design by David Harrison, Design Lives Here by Penny Craswell, MMXX by Cameron Bruhn, Living Outside by Sharon Mackay and Diana Snape, and Australian Designers at Home by Jenny Rose-Innes, reflect how the foundational principle continues to underpin Thames & Hudson Australia’s work. From landscape design to architecture, industrial design and interiors, these five titles take distinctly original perspectives on their subject matter, casting a new light on aspects of design history and contemporary culture and exemplifying the important role that illustrated books of this calibre still have to play in the digital age.

Taking the reader on a journey through a period of unprecedented prosperity and uncertainty in Australia, MMXX offers an incisive overview of the past 20 years in Australian architecture, from 2000 to the end of 2019. Distilling the first two decades of the 21st century into 59 of the most innovative and influential buildings accompanied by 10 essays by architects, academics and curators, MMXX seeks to “confront the opportunities and concomitant challenges of this complex 21st-century context.” As the first major survey of contemporary Australian architecture in the current century, MMXX represents an important foray into understanding our present milieu through examining the recent past.

“I think 1970 probably qualifies as early pioneering days in Australian publishing; it was around the time that local publishers really began forging their own identity,” reflects Managing Director Daniel Watts.

[Top] Design Lives Here by Penny Craswell. [Bottom left] Dalgety Street House. Architecture: Ha. Photography: Tom Blanchford and Kate Ballis. [Bottom right] Indigo Slam. Architecture: Smart Design Studio. Photography: Sharrin Rees, David Roche and Rowena Moore.

In Design Lives Here, Penny Craswell delves into contemporary Australian residential architecture, interiors, furniture and lighting. Design Lives Here features a collection of contemporary homes in which a key piece of furniture or lighting by an Australian designer that is integral to how the space is experienced is highlighted. Exploring the intrinsic relationship between residential architecture and interiors and these significant objects, Design Lives Here is a valuable sourcebook of contemporary Australian design. In telling these stories of the origin of design and placing furniture and lighting in their context, it is also a poignant reflection on how homes and the objects within them become imbued with meaning through both the design process and the experiences of those who inhabit the homes or interact with the objects over the course of their lives.

A personal approach shapes Australian Designers at Home. Offering an intimate portrait of leading Australian interiors and designers through the spaces they have created for themselves, Australian Designers at Home is a celebration of the designers who have inspired Jenny-Rose Innes over the years. As well as providing a fascinating insight into the personality of each designer through the design of their own homes, the book is also a practical resource for home decorating, giving readers insights into the designers’ individual practices and approach to design.

Celebrating 50 Years Of Beautiful Illustrated Books – Thames & Hudson Australia Product Feature The Local Project Image 02
[Top] Oak Tree House. Landscape design: Amanda Oliver Gardens. Architecture: Kennedy Nolan. Photography: Christopher Frederick Jones. [Bottom left] Living Outside by Diana Snape and Sharon Mackay. [Bottom right] Garden House. Architecture: Baracco+Wright Associates. Photography: Rory Gardiner.

Diana Snape and Sharon Mackay step outside the built environment and into the natural with Living Outside, an inspiring collection of contemporary residential gardens that continue the legacy of mid-century modern Australian landscape design. The modernist movement saw gardens become less formal and more contextually responsive, with an impetus towards experimentation and the values of conservation, invention and wellbeing, which Living Outside shows to be more relevant than ever to the present era’s social and environmental challenges. Accompanied by emotive photographs by Christopher Frederick Jones, the book is an insightful exploration of contemporary Australian landscape design.

With a global view of 20th-century design history, A Century of Colour in Design takes on the ambitious project of presenting an overview of 100 years of design through 250 innovative objects. David Harrison employs colour as the tool for honing such a broad timespan into a coherent narrative. Reflecting on the 50-year milestone that was reached in the same year as A Century of Colour in Design was published, David says, “I feel very privileged to be part of the Thames & Hudson design print fraternity. The combination of creative freedom I had to execute the book matched by their global reputation for quality publications has ensured a stellar outcome for A Century of Colour in Design.”

“In that regard, Thames & Hudson was there from the start, but with the particular mission of making the arts accessible to Australians through the book medium. Art galleries without walls .”

[Top] A Century of Colour in Design by David Harrison. [Middle] Gaia armchair by Carlo Bartoli. Image courtesy of Bartoli Design and Università Iuav di Venezia – Archivio Progetti, Fondo Mauro Masera. Photograph by Mauro Masera. [Bottom] UP5_6 armchair and ottoman by Gaetano Pesce. Image courtesy of B&B Italia.

Each of these five books represents a valuable addition to the Thames & Hudson’s ever-growing list of publications and, moreover, to the wider conversation around design in Australia and the world. As Thames & Hudson Australia looks back on a successful half-century, Daniel Watts is optimistic about the future.“I’m delighted to see the illustrated book is not only alive and well, but positively flourishing in an age of digital disruption and look forward to the evolution of the business over the next 50 years,” he says.

From design and interiors to architecture, landscape, art and gardening, Thames & Hudson has a book for everyone. Shop online via their website and enter the discount code, exclusive to readers of The Local Project, TLP25 at checkout. Offer valid until 13th December 2020.

Published 26 November, 2020
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