Source: Courtesy of TASCHEN

Fall’s 10 Best New Coffee-Table Books—and the Coffee Tables to Put Them On

In which we spice up our living room with a cue from Kramer

Labor Day: that bittersweet time of year when sun-soaked vacations and summer Fridays give way to more time spent indoors. To make nesting a little less depressing, we've combed through the catalogs of the world's best art book publishers to find big, beautiful releases to keep you occupied.

While we were at it, we also found 10 conversation-worthy coffee tables to complement them. (Though we're still holding out for the two combined.) 

 

FOR THE MINIMALIST | Ellsworth Kelly

Pictured: Ellsworth Kelly’s Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 (top); Eero Saarinen’s iconic coffee table (bottom). 
Pictured: Ellsworth Kelly’s Colors for a Large Wall, 1951 (top); Eero Saarinen’s iconic coffee table (bottom). 
Source: (from top) Courtesy of Ellsworth Kelly Archives/Phaidon; Knoll

Phaidon, $125, October

For the consummate minimalist, here's a maximalist book on 92-year-old artist Ellsworth Kelly’s lifetime of groundbreaking work. Curator Tricia Y. Paik guides us through the artist’s color-soaked career in 400 illustrations and scholarly essays. It’s a must for any Kelly fan: the only book, in fact, to completely span the artist’s entire oeuvre. THE TABLE: Eero Saarinen’s streamlined 1957 classic from his Pedestal Collection is the perfect quiet complement to Kelly's colors. ($1,627; knoll.com)

 

FOR THE CHILD AT HEART | Mattel: 70 Years of Innovation and Play

Pictured: A Mattel Hot Wheels helmet worn by rally car driver Tanner Foust in 2012 (top); Frank Gehry’s lighthearted, kid-friendly coffee table (bottom).
Pictured: A Mattel Hot Wheels helmet worn by rally car driver Tanner Foust in 2012 (top); Frank Gehry’s lighthearted, kid-friendly coffee table (bottom).
Source: (from top) Courtesy of Assouline; Design Within Reach

Assouline, $125, October

An express trip back to childhood for a grown-up price, Assouline’s upcoming release charts the rise of a humble two-person operation in a Los Angeles garage to America’s beloved purveyor of Barbies and Hot Wheels. The editors dug deep into Mattel’s archive for a wealth of vintage shots and documents that add depth to the toys we’ve all grown up with. THE TABLE: Starchitect Frank Gehry’s weatherproof polyethylene design has a whimsy all its own. ($690; dwr.com)

 

FOR THE FRANCOPHILE | The Parisian Gentleman

Pictured: Paris-based Smalto’s exotic-skin sports jacket (top); a vintage Louis XVI table with red leather tops inset into its pullout shelves (bottom).
Pictured: Paris-based Smalto’s exotic-skin sports jacket (top); a vintage Louis XVI table with red leather tops inset into its pullout shelves (bottom).
Source: (from top) Andy Julia/Courtesy of Thames & Hudson; 1stdibs

Thames and Hudson, $75, December

For those who revere the insouciant, suited-up swagger of French style-setters, Parisian Gentleman is an illustrated Rolodex of the maisons and ateliers that dress them. Blogger Hugo Jacomet, the founder and face of the website of the same name, takes us on a tour of 20 renowned houses—from shoemakers to suitmakers—and the forces behind them. THE TABLE: This ebonized mahogany Louis XVI table is as Gallic (and elegant) as it gets. ($1,600; 1stdibs.com)

 

FOR THE FASHIONISTA | Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue

Pictured: Arthur Elgort’s 2001 photograph of Stella Tennant, Matthew Avedon, and Ansel and Warren Elgort, styled by Grace Coddington (top); Jonathan Adler’s Carrera marble-topped brass coffee table (bottom).
Pictured: Arthur Elgort’s 2001 photograph of Stella Tennant, Matthew Avedon, and Ansel and Warren Elgort, styled by Grace Coddington (top); Jonathan Adler’s Carrera marble-topped brass coffee table (bottom).
Source: (from top) Courtesy of Grace Coddington/Phaidon; Jonathan Adler

Phaidon, $150, October

Yes, there are shiny monographs about Cindy Crawford and the House of Dior on the horizon, but die-hard fashion fans will rejoice when Phaidon reissues this 2002 cult coffee-table classic about Vogue’s formidable creative director (responsible for the magazine’s more whimsical spreads). With copies currently fetching $395 on EBay, the relatively humble $150 price tag will leave some spare change for a follow-up edition to be released next year. THE TABLE: The Scalinatella Cocktail Table is sumptuous, surreal, and quirky—much like Coddington’s work. ($1,950; jonathanadler.com)

 

FOR THE J-SCHOOL JUNKIE | Frank Sinatra Has a Cold

Pictured: A quiet shot of Sinatra by photographer Phil Stern, signed by writer Gay Talese (top); a steel flat file converted into a smart coffee table.
Pictured: A quiet shot of Sinatra by photographer Phil Stern, signed by writer Gay Talese (top); a steel flat file converted into a smart coffee table.
Source: (from top) Phil Stern/Courtesy of TASCHEN; 1stdibs

Taschen, $200, November

Writer Gay Talese’s seminal 1965 profile of Ol’ Blue Eyes gets the deluxe Taschen treatment as the kickoff title in the publisher’s literary series; think letterpress printing, a silkscreened cloth cover, and rich duotone photos by Sinatra's longtime photographer, Phil Stern. Snap up one of the 5,000 signed collector’s copies and earn bonus points when your writerly friends come over for cocktails. THE TABLE: A vintage steel flat file with a peekaboo glass top does double duty as storage for transcripts, reporter’s notebooks, and other journalistic ephemera. ($1,800; 1stdibs.com)

 

FOR THE URBANIST | The High Line

Pictured: The High Line at night, with construction under way for the new Whitney Museum (top); Restoration Hardware’s reclaimed wood coffee table (bottom).
Pictured: The High Line at night, with construction under way for the new Whitney Museum (top); Restoration Hardware’s reclaimed wood coffee table (bottom).
Source: (from top) Diane Cook and Len Jenshel/National Geographic Creative/Courtesy of Phaidon; Restoration Hardware

Phaidon, $75, November

New York’s derelict railway turned urban oasis has transcended local hype to become a symbol of 21st century municipal reinvention. This comprehensive tome tells the decade-long story of the elevated park’s development in the designers’ and developers’ own words—a unique approach for an equally unique project. THE TABLE: Restoration Hardware’s reclaimed oak piece reflects the High Line’s spare yet stylish aesthetic. (From $1,495; restorationhardware.com)

 

FOR THE SHOE FLY | Manolo Blahnik: Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions

Pictured: Manolo Blahnik’s embellished, fur-trimmed heels (top); a clover-shaped coffee table by West Elm (bottom).
Pictured: Manolo Blahnik’s embellished, fur-trimmed heels (top); a clover-shaped coffee table by West Elm (bottom).
Source: © Michael Roberts / Maconochie Photography/Courtesy of Rizzoli; West Elm

Rizzoli, $150, September

Manolo Blahnik’s storied shoes finally get the coffee-table treatment they deserve. The designer himself compiled this absorbing, academic exploration of his aesthetic influences in the form of conversations, essays, and sumptuous photographs by Michael Roberts. THE TABLE: West Elm’s spindly Clover table in warm walnut and antique brass smacks of Blahnik’s vertiginous footwear. ($249; westelm.com)

 

FOR THE REBEL | The Rise of David Bowie

Pictured: An early '70s shot of David Bowie by photographer Mick Rock (top); Yves Klein’s transparent pigment coffee table (bottom).
Pictured: An early '70s shot of David Bowie by photographer Mick Rock (top); Yves Klein’s transparent pigment coffee table (bottom).
Source: (from top) Mick Rock/Courtesy of TASCHEN; L’ArcoBaleno

Taschen, $700, October

With a hologram cover, pink-trimmed clamshell box, and bold, full-bleed photography, this deluxe monograph gives us David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust heyday in all its glittered glory. Photographer Mick Rock’s intimate images from 1972 and '73 reinstate the icon as the original boundary-bending performer (stand back, Miley)—and a limited run of only 1,972 copies, signed by both Rock and Bowie, may make this tome a glam rock icon as well. THE TABLE: Designed by Yves Klein in the '60s, this famed model anticipates '70s glam with its louche see-through Plexiglas top filled with hot pink pigment. Bowie would approve. (Price upon request; larcobaleno.com

 

FOR THE FOODIE FINE ART LOVER | Wayne Thiebaud

Pictured: Wayne Thiebaud is known for his enigmatic, lifelike paintings of desserts (top); Blue Dot’s slice-shaped coffee table (bottom).
Pictured: Wayne Thiebaud is known for his enigmatic, lifelike paintings of desserts (top); Blue Dot’s slice-shaped coffee table (bottom).
Source: (from top) © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY/Courtesy of Rizzoli; Blu Dot

Rizzoli, $150, October

West Coast artist Wayne Thiebaud portrayed people, landscapes, and cities in spare, striking form, but it was his unique compositions of cakes and other assorted desserts that made him a household name—thick dabs of paint and pronounced shadows etching signifiers of the American deli counter into our collective memories. Rizzoli's career-spanning exploration is required reading for those who have a healthy appetite for provocative art. THE TABLE: Modernist cake-like slices are a simple nod to Thibaud’s tactile, conversation-starting aesthetic. ($599; bludot.com)

 

FOR THE ENVIRONMENTALIST | Arctica: The Vanishing North (Limited Edition)

Pictured: Sebastian Copeland's striking Arctic landscapes (top); a recyclable steel coffee table by designer Chris Kabatsi.
Pictured: Sebastian Copeland's striking Arctic landscapes (top); a recyclable steel coffee table by designer Chris Kabatsi.
Source: (from top) © Sebastian Copeland/Courtesy of TeNeues; Houzz

TeNeues, $2,500, September

President Obama’s recent trip to Alaska, with its emphasis on the increasingly dire effects of global warming, finds visual resonance in this arresting tome by activist and adventurer Sebastian Copeland. His haunting photographs of vanishing North Pole landscapes nearly glow on the signed and numbered photoprints in TeNeues’s ice-blue collector’s edition, limited to 50 copies. THE TABLE: Designer Chris Kabatsi’s recyclable laser-cut steel table conjures the undulations of the Arctic’s wild landscape. ($3,520; houzz.com

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