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Design Talk is a blog started by award-winning Swedish interior designer Henriette Kockum.

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I have a confession. Somehow, I’ve been an interior designer for 10 years and still don’t own an interior design coffee table book. Don’t get me wrong, I have other coffee table books I enjoy to look at and read for inspiration. However, they are mostly photography or travel related. They’re not that typical chunky design book, you know what I mean?

“”After a decade without looking at design books, it feels kind of like a big deal. Will I even open them? Is this a total waste of money? At the very least, the cover must look chic on my coffee table.”

I’m not quite sure how this happened? Most of the time, when I’m looking for specific design inspiration, say hardware ideas, colors or patterns, anything really – I go online. I’m a massive fan of Pinterest and categorizing every type of inspiration into a specific board. Also, since Instagram started the Save function – I’ve built up some folders with inspiration there too. The third option I’ll go for ideas is my own photos – pictures I’ve taken out and about or while traveling. But otherwise, I lack any “physical” source of inspiration. Magazines don’t quite do it for me. Can any other interior designers relate to me on this? Am I just a freak?

It feels like it’s time to INVEST in design books. After a decade without looking at design books, it feels kind of like a big deal. Will I even open them? Is this a total waste of money? At the very least, the cover must look chic on my coffee table.

I figured I should get some guidance and asked around on Instagram if people had any favorite design books. I got some recommendations but a lot of designers had a similar conundrum and wanted me to share the results as they too were looking for good options. So I’m going to share below a combination of what others have recommended to me, and books I’ve been eyeing myself!

Architectural Digest: A Century of Style


Well respected design publication Architectural Digest goes back into its 100 year old archives and uncovers its most inspiring spaces, including homes and gardens of celebrities, politicians and designers.

Perfect For:

Someone looking for wide ranging design inspiration and a staple in their design book collection.

Pierre Yovanovitch: Interior Architecture


Pierre Yovanovitch is one of our generations most in-demand interior designers. He is admired by his peers as well as his high end clients. This book showcases the private residences of his clients across the world.

Perfect For:

People who admire subtle, classic interior design with a modern edge. Think vintage chairs and reclaimed wood flooring alongside modern millwork and architectural lighting. Alternatively, imagine an old French Chateau showcasing contemporary artwork. If you’re a fan of European interior design and architecture this book is a must.

Beata Heuman: Every Room Should Sing


Swedish-born, London-based interior designer Beata Heuman founded her design studio in 2013 and has in a short amount of time become one of today’s most in-demand creatives. She is well known for her quirky aesthetic and collection of bespoke home goods. This book doesn’t just offer inspiration but guides the reader through different ways to design and finding your voice.

Perfect For:

Someone fond of eclectic, particularly British, design but not sure how to make it come together, or simply researching fresh design ideas. This is great for someone looking to bring a bit of boldness and their own personality into their space.

Axel Vervoordt – which one to get?


I’m a huge fan of Axel Vervoordt’s work so I’ll definitely be a bit biased here. He has a bunch of books so I couldn’t just pick one! I will instead differentiate between 3 of his books so you can see which is best for you. If you’re unfamiliar with Vervoordt, I’ll do my best to encapsulate his work. He’s a bit of a legend in the industry with decades of work. Originally from Belgium, he started off an an antique dealer and grew his clientele and portfolio of work across the world. Some of his recent designs include the penthouse of The Greenwich Hotel in New York, and the home of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in California. His aesthetic has this serene aspect to it which I’ve found other Belgian designers also embrace. (What’s in the waters over there? Design genius?) There’s a sense of “Old World” yet timelessness to it. He’s not afraid of mixing antiques from different eras alongside modern architectural elements. His work will at times also read rugged and casual even if the piece / material / space itself is worth a fortune.

Axel Vervoordt: Portraits of Interiors

Perfect For:

Someone looking for a book showcasing a variety of his work across the world. Some spaces leaning more contemporary and others more traditional and rural.

Axel Vervoordt: Wabi Inspirations

Perfect For:

Fans of specifically the Wabi Sabi aspect of Vervoordt’s design aesthetic, or of Japanese design in general should look to this book.

Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors

Perfect For:

Antique aficionados and aspiring vintage collectors should definitely consider this book. Anyone looking for inspiration for mixing antiques and heirlooms, or a fan or traditional European interiors would enjoy its visuals.

Athena Calderone: Live Beautiful


Creator of the lauded blog EyeSwoon, Athena Calderone has become a modern day icon for living beautifully in every sense of the word. In this book she takes us behind the scenes of her network of designers and tastemakers so we can discover their homes and design insights.

Perfect For:

Someone looking for wide ranging interior design inspiration from multiple homes that have a European and Parisian touch.

Roman Alonso: Design Commune


Acclaimed design studio, Commune, highlights a variety of their design work in this book. Expect to see interior design projects for private and commercial spaces, as well as artist collaborations, product designs, packaging, and graphics.

Perfect For:

People who enjoy an eclectic form of mid century design and particularly West Coast design aesthetics.

Wally Koval: Accidentally Wes Anderson


Instagram account @accidentallywesanderson collects photos from all over the world which have a particular aesthetic to them which draws resemblance to the movies of film director Wes Anderson. After gaining millions of followers, this has resulted in a book featuring the best of the best, with foreword by Anderson himself.

Perfect For:

Obviously anyone who’s a fan of Wes Anderson’s films will enjoy the stunning photography in this book. However, in terms of design, people who are looking specifically for retro inspiration would enjoy this book. Think examples of bold use of colors, graphics and symmetry in architecture.

Nicoló Castellini Baldissera: Inside Tangier


Morocco and specifically the city of Tangier, has for a long time been a source of inspiration for the creative crowd. Many icons including fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and antiques dealer Gordon Watson have homes there. This book gives the reader an exclusive look at the unique homes and gardens of the artistic elite in Tangier.

Perfect For:

People who appreciate eclectic design featuring bold colors, patterns and unique mixes of antiques from different eras and cultures. I’ve personally heard a lot about this book and my sense is that it’s a great reference for European meets Middle Eastern design influences.

Kelly Wearstler: Evocative Style


I’d argue that Kelly Wearstler is THE most famous interior designer of today. Based in LA, she’s beyond a celebrity designer. She’s an innovator in the industry, pushing the boundaries of art and space, making them synonymous with one another. Hence we can’t talk about design books without including one of hers!

Perfect For:

People appreciating detailed photos and after ideas for how to layer accessories and art into a space. It’s not a how-to guide, but it’s great for making a striking visual impression.

Do you have any favorite design books? What‘s most important for you in a design book, a guide and behind the scenes, or great visuals? Let me know in the comments! I’m genuinely curious!

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.



April 7, 2021

Must-Have Interior Design Coffee Table Books

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