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American Modern [Hardcover]

Thomas O'Brien
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 60.00
Price: CDN$ 37.62 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

April 1 2010

Designer and merchant, collector and tastemaker, Thomas O’Brien has made a career of translating cool notions of modernism into an easy and generous array of modern styles that anyone can attain. Now he introduces readers to a range of those styles—from casual to formal, vintage to urban—alongside stunning photography and charming design stories.

      O’Brien carefully describes the design process of his chosen projects, including a downtown New York City loft, a traditional Connecticut estate, and a converted schoolhouse in eastern Long Island. Each home explores a view on the modern design spectrum he has created, as well as the individual choices that make the design unique and its mix essentially American. He explains not only what was at work to create a given style, but how readers can import those practices to their own homes and personal design sensibilities. Important design principles such as architectural authenticity, color relationships, correctness of scale, and informed collecting are threaded through a practical narrative that reads like a master class in interior design.

     American Modern is an inspiring design volume that will redefine the way readers think about modern interiors.


Frequently Bought Together

American Modern + Victoria Hagan: Interior Portraits + The New Traditional: Reinvent-Balance-Define Your Home
Price For All Three: CDN$ 107.84


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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
It amazes me how few design inspirations there are for houses built 1900-1950. A huge number of Britain's suburban family homes date from this period, yet British interior designers and retailers seem incredibly reluctant to engage with them, and there are very few looks available to those wanting to avoid wholesale modernisation.

Either you go down the Cath Kidston route (way too girlie and twee for most blokes); or the retro Pedlars look (shabby AND expensive, a combination to make your mother weep); or the whole-hog Utility or Art Deco re-creation (the Geffrye museum via Ebay, for those who really want to dedicate years of their life to replicating an Agatha Christie stage set).

Well, folks, now there's an alternative. And it's BEAUTIFUL. 'American Modern' - which has nothing specifically American about it, and is absolutely not what Europeans would call "modern" at all - is the signature style of the book's author, a New York decorator called Thomas O'Brien, who is very famous in the US apparently, though I hadn't heard of him until now.

O'Brien's interiors have a very polished and opulent style that incorporates a ton of "stuff": piles of interesting travel relics and eclectic gewgaws surrounded by early 20th century antiques, dreamy line illustrations and photography, sumptuous upholstery, foxed mirrorglass furniture, chrome, marble, linen, silk and velvet, all in divinely muted colour palettes. (If I ever re-do my sitting room, I'm going his 'shades of blue hydrangea' all the way). Think pre-war Hollywood movies, the great grand hotels of the world, and deposed royalty living it up in Park Avenue and Cadogan Square mansion flats. Dahlink, I kennot tell you, it's etterly febulous.

This book is not for the faint of heart, or the light of pocket.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous....a must have! Nov. 8 2010
Format:Hardcover
I am a decor book junkie and while some get perused and forgotten, American Modern is a favorite. Excellent photography and wonderful insight into Thomas' work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I bought this for my monotone, neutrals-loving mom, but I fell in love with this book. It has a great range of styles within its pages, so made for some fun "love it, hate it" scanning (mostly "loved it", though). Awesome section on mid-century modern-loving home with tips on how to warm up the style. Text is small, so pull out the magnifying glass.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning interiors with an opulent and unusual early/mid 20th century vibe April 9 2010
By Third Time Lucky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It amazes me how few design inspirations there are for British houses built 1900-1950. A huge number of our suburban family homes date from this period, yet British interior designers and retailers seem incredibly reluctant to engage with them, and there are very few looks available to those wanting to avoid wholesale modernisation.

Either you go down the Cath Kidston route (way too girlie and twee for most blokes); or the retro Pedlars look (shabby AND expensive, a combination to make your mother weep); or the wholesale Utility or Art Deco re-creation (the Geffrye museum via Ebay, for those who really want to dedicate years of their life to replicating an Agatha Christie stage set).

Well, folks, now there's an alternative. And it's BEAUTIFUL. 'American Modern' - which has nothing specifically American about it, and is absolutely not what Europeans would call "modern" at all - is the signature style of the book's author, a New York decorator called Thomas O'Brien, who is very famous in the US apparently, though I hadn't heard of him until now.

O'Brien's interiors have a very polished and opulent style that incorporates a ton of "stuff": piles of interesting travel relics and eclectic gewgaws surrounded by early 20th century antiques, dreamy line illustrations and photography, sumptuous upholstery, foxed mirrorglass furniture, chrome, marble, linen, silk and velvet, all in divinely muted colour palettes. (If I ever re-do my sitting room, I'm going his 'shades of blue hydrangea' all the way). Think pre-war Hollywood movies, the great grand hotels of the world, and deposed royalty living it up in Park Avenue and Cadogan Square mansion flats. Dahlink, I kennot tell you, it's etterly febulous.

This book is not for the faint of heart, or the light of pocket. Its ideas are way too luxe for owners of teeny-tiny pre-war semis and bungalows (who should check out the 'Domino' book or Ann Grafton's 'Interior Transformations' instead). And if you're a minimalist, or think 20th century modernity should be all Eames and brutalist architecture, you'll almost certainly hate it. But for those who prefer a richer and more overtly decorated look, this really is the most stunning property porn I've seen in a long while.

'House & Garden' addicts who, like me, salivate over the work of Emily Todhunter, Neisha and Charlotte Crosland, Nina Campbell or Guy Goodfellow will adore 'American Modern', and will soon be adding Thomas O'Brien to their list of design crushes (he's also absurdly handsome if his author photo is anything to go by). As for those of you who have, or aspire to have, a BIG early 20th century house, and want a glamorous, impressive, sexy yet comfortable interior, do not dare pick up even a paintbrush until you've checked out this gorgeous book.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic March 27 2010
By L. M. Keefer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you like a fresh, original mix of classic styles with modern, you'll love this book. Modern can easily be too sterile or cold, but Thomas O'Brien knows how to warm it up with light and grace. I loved this book, and think it will become a best-seller and classic among lovers of interior design. The author shows how to interpret modern style in combinations such as vintage modern, urban modern, formal modern etc. as illustrated by his various design projects including his own residences.

One of my favorite residences is the former Academy on Long Island which O'Brien renovated and repurposed for his own home. I've found that many designers design wonderful living and sleeping rooms, but I'm not as fond of their kitchens and bathrooms. O'Brien's kitchens and baths are amazing--the kitchen in his former Academy is luscious. Note the white cork floor. The book also features a guest house kitchen with wonderfully unique bar stools.

What I admire about O'Brien's work is that it has a certain anonymity--it doesn't scream his name as some designer's projects do where they look more like the designer than the client. You can tell someone with a keen design sensibility and deftness designed these rooms. You want to study the rooms and read about how the designer approached the project and the reasoning behind the decisions he made which O'Brien explains in this book. You can get into the mind of a great designer for a few hours.

For those of us who enjoy eclectic style and want to know how to adeptly mix antiques with modern furniture, this book will train your eye in how to do it successfully. It's also full of images that illustrate how to use loved and original accessories beautifully. I enjoyed this book so much I'm going to recommend that my library get it as I think it has a universal appeal and timelessness of style that will last for a long time. The book is beautifully crafted and a pleasure to view.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a meticulous, beautiful book April 15 2010
By JD, Los Angeles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have been a fan of Thomas O'Brien for quite a while--having lusted after many a magazine photo of his interior and furniture designs and having been to his store, Aero, in New York. But even if you're not familiar with his work, you should buy this book. His style is quirky yet timeless, warm but elegant, and he's somehow found a way to make sure antiques never look dowdy and modern never feels cold. Best of all, he's written a book that doesn't talk down to the reader. You may not get every obscure historic reference or construction detail, but it's nice to hear from someone who knows his stuff and wants to share that knowledge and passion. He is a meticulous designer and he's written a meticulous, beautiful book. Buy it!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my favorite designer's inspirational book May 1 2010
By evelyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
i have watched thomas o'brien in decorator magazines for many, many years. i love his sense of design and style. i especially love his use of old things, from fine antiques to junk, mixed in with more modern elements. we own mostly old things, and am trying to figure out how to mix in some contemporary stuff so my house doesn't look like grandma's place. this book has a full continuum of traditional to modern rooms that are inspiring me to make my house more interesting. wonderful book--thank you to everyone involved!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT! March 10 2010
By davidj - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Refreshing and inspirational. Does not disappointment. One of the best I have purchased in a while.
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