Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Five More Inspiring Design Books


As I’ve mentioned before I generally love the start of a new year (as my twin so beautifully put it last week “the perfect time to dust off the cobwebs, shake out the sheets and get our selves organized for the next ride around the sun” ), when one can start fresh with new projects and new ideas.

The last few weeks though, as I dug through my cache of 20+ years worth of sketches and scribbles in preparation for my Drawing a Day project,  my mind has turned to the past. Since I tend to focus on what’s in front of me – always planning for the next collection, the next stage of the business, it is sometimes easy to let valuable history slip away. I’m thinking about how remaining firmly rooted in one’s beginnings and improving upon one’s earlier work can only lead to a richer and more authentic story.

This touches on something else I have been mulling over of late – staying connected with the tangible. A big chunk of my time every day is spent in front of a computer screen; many of my daily interactions with friends, family and colleagues happen through email or social media platforms. With friends and family all over the world, and an online business it’s hard to avoid, and there’s no denying the internet is a powerful and wonderful tool, but it still bothers me sometimes. Occasionally one needs to just be in one’s own skin, and let time slow down a little.


In the spirit of the concrete, I thought I’d share a few more books from my dog-eared library with you. Previous installments are here, here and here.

1. Felt: Art, Craft and Design, Katherina Thomas (ed.)

I bought this when I first starting learning how to wet-felt. A petite book, it comes in it’s own grey wool cozy and focuses contemporary work in the medium from garments to industrial applications.


2. And All Was Revealed: Ladies Underwear 1907-1980, Doreen Caldwell

Another gift from my father that has traveled all over the world with me. The history of women’s undergarments through out the 20th century is documented with a description, excerpts from advertising and illustrations – these show each layer of clothing being removed until, as the titles states, all is revealed!


3. I Opened the Gate, Laughing: An Inner Journey, Mayumi Oda

I first encountered the work of Mayumi Oda , somewhat incongruously in a messy student flat in Berkeley. The friends who lived there had a large painting of hers on the wall and I fell in love instantly. So when I saw this book on my mom’s shelf, I brought it home with me. Her images have so much joy and light in them, and make me want to go out and put my hands in the dirt. Plus the title is amazing.


4. The Best of Little Nemo in Slumberland, Created by Windsor McCay 1905-1927, Edited and with an introduction by Richard Marschall

Other than Maurice Sendak I think Windsor McCay captures that magic, surreal beauty and terror of childhood dreams. His art nouveau style illustrations are enchanting, especially the gorgeous color palettes. A gift from K.


5. Costume Patterns and Designs, Max Tilke

And of course no list from me would be complete without a book about clothes. This one is special to me because it includes the traditional clothing of many cultures, along with diagrams of how they were made. So great. It’s interesting to me how simply constructed many of them are.


It’s a beautiful sunny and balmy 72 here in Raleigh today. The dogs are outside sunning themselves on the back deck, K is next door cooking ribs with our neighbors for our dinner tonight. I’m going to get in on the fun.

xo O

10 Responses to “Five More Inspiring Design Books”

  1. ruchapowers

    This is such a great reminder to value things we can hold in our hands, and the tangible experience of looking at a book and hearing the pages turn. Some of these books are very familiar as I have see them all my life. (The underwear book cracks me up, thank god it only goes up to the 80’s – imagine if they wrote one today and had to cover g-strings and celebrity panty-less paparazzi shots where ALL really is revealed. Ewww) Thank you for being the curator of this great collection and for dragging these books all over the globe with you over the years. Happy Reading!
    p.s your drawing-a-day just gets better and better. xo

    • oami powers

      There’s that unifying sentence I was missing! I laughed out loud when I read your comment about And All Was Revealed – I didn’t even think about that…..ah the g-string. Remind me that I have a story about that to tell you when we talk today. Glad you are liking the scribbles 🙂

  2. betty

    I always enjoy seeing your books Oami. And it was fun looking back at your previous book posts. I cannot imagine having to wear such complicated undergarments!

    • oami powers

      So good, right? The other amazing thing is that even though some of these books are getting pretty old, and presumably out of print, I still find them listed on Amazon. Obviously they are used, but still, amazing.

  3. Jacquelyn Marie

    Love the fact that you love books! A Goddess daughter after my own heart!
    Also I was very touched by the picture of the Mayumi Oda book as I gave that to Judith.


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