Frankly, I think Tom Wolfe could write about factories that produce brown paper bags and he’d spin a good yarn out of it (except maybe, for A Man in Full). The Bonfire of the Vanities is a must-read for anyone, but especially for those of us who have lived in New York and have been witness to more than one local political scandal.
But despite this and despite the fact that I work in the field of design, I had never read From Bauhaus to Our Houseuntil recently. And that’s a shame, because it’s a great read.
Wolfe chronicles the advent of modernism, starting with Walter Gropius and his Bauhaus School for architects. From there he illustrates the fevered admiration of the rest of the world’s architectural community, until the point that defining yourself as an architect is barely less specific than labeling yourself a modernist. He touches on the absurdity that some of the most renowned modern architects are the ones that build the least. Finally, he observes the backlash towards this style - starting with Robert Venturi’s Learning from Las Vegas.
If you are even tangentially connected to architecture or design, I’d recommend this -- it’s a light, fast, breezy book that somehow still manages to provide academic information and discuss seemingly lofty concepts.