Can anyone recommend a good book on design? Period styles, homes, cabinetry/furniture, etc. I am a finish carpenter/cabinetmaker and want to learn more about design aspects, but want to avoid four years of school. I want to teach myself.
(Furniture Making Forum)
Not exactly sure what you mean by learning design. There are fundamentals, such as combining different shapes, sizes, colors, etc. As far as period styles, just find books on the periods you like and see what elements make up Stickley or whatever styles you like.
You might save a lot more time by taking a few courses and getting some guidance to avoid some of the pitfalls. It's pretty exciting to be in a room of other like minded people to exchange ideas... certainly much faster than a web forum. Go to the libraries and art libraries at the local colleges. I'm near Smith College and the Art Library is as big as some regular libraries. Nothing like a mentor to go to with questions.
On the other hand, with design you can only teach so much. Some folks have a gift for it and the truly talented ones build new paths of design, taking previous ideas to new levels. Also, read the magazines like Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Period Homes and there are many more.
I'm really hesitant to recommend a particular book, but would rather tell you where to find the sources so you can pick what you like. I prefer the more contemporary stuff. First, go to the library and go through all the books you can find until you find books you can't put down.
Also David Pye, The Nature Of Design, and his second follow-up book. Both Pye and Livio go beyond the physical details and get into the why and how something is correctly proportioned or feels right. Why a well designed room full of proper furniture can enhance one's quality of life. These don't take the place of period design books like Wallace Nuttig, Shaker Style and the others, but will help pull out the foundation where you can understand it.