Ornament is Crime. If, upon reading those words you think to yourself 'Yes! Yes it is!' then this new book about modern architecture from Phaidon is for you. What makes the modern masterpieces so seductive has as much to do with what isn't there to tempt you as what is, and the diehard fans of this beloved design philosophy get it. In naming the book, authors Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill have taken inspiration from Adolf Loos's condemnation of the highly ornamental designs the early 20th century to pay homage to the unembellished design of the past and present, and to illustrate the influence that Modernism continues to exert upon contemporary architects, and therefore, our world. This picture book is lush with photos of every great modern building around the globe that you would want bound between two hard covers including many hidden residential gems, and all are in black and white (divided into chapters introduced by boldly coloured cover pages). Sure, the landscape that the modernist home sits within is a vital element of the project and with that usually comes the contextual green foliage and unencumbered blue skies. But Ornament is Crime is about celebrating the rigid integrity of these structures, and the monochrome presentation keeps our focus on those linear forms, their perfect geometry emphasised by highlights and shadow. After flipping through a few pages, narrated with thought-provoking quotes from revered architects and cultural figures, you'll likely find that you no longer notice the lack of colour. Each photo feels vibrant and exciting, like their quietly evocative modernist subjects that resonate so deeply in the hearts and minds of those who appreciate that when it comes to design, less always gives more.
Ornament is Crime: Modernist Architecture is published by Phaidon and is available in hardback, £29.95 and features 300 colour and black & white illustrations, 224 pages.
Matt Gibberd is a founding director of The Modern House property agency. Formerly a senior editor at The World of Interiors magazine, he has written widely on architecture, art, and design.
Albert Hill is a founding director of The Modern House property agency. Albert was the design editor at Wallpaper* under founding editor Tyler Brûlé, and has written and broadcast widely.