The best coffee table books to buy right now

Beautiful oversized books don’t just enhance the look of your coffee table, they’re also a subtle way to signal your interests to your guests, whether it’s travel, contemporary art, or pop culture nostalgia. . To help you cultivate your own coffee table book stack, we tapped style-centric homeowners for their personal top picks.

Portrait of a street artist

Eleanor Nairne

Jean-Michel Basquiat. 40th ed.

Filled with prints from the late neo-expressionist painter known for his graffiti and post-punk influenced works, this colorful book is the only interior designer based in Los Angeles. Antoinette Arrington keep the front and center. Flipping through it brings back memories of her own forays into painting and collage when she was younger, as well as awe at all the artist was able to accomplish in her short life. “I love his expressive and raw artwork; especially “Untitled (Refrigerator),” which features a fridge covered in sketches,” she says.

Joyful look at an iconic toy

John Baichtal and Joe Meno

The cult of Lego

At first glance, a book about plastic building blocks might not seem like a worthy choice for a coffee table, but this retrospective is surprisingly inspiring, according to Carly Bigifounder of Laws of motion, a company that helps people find well-fitting clothes using AI. She notes that the “boundless genius of Legos…rooted in endless potential and mutability”, resonates beyond their function as toys. “This is proof positive of how, together, we can reimagine what is possible in the world.” Among the book’s 304 pages are profiles of Lego fanatics like professional Lego builder Nathan Sawaya and animator Angus MacLane, who created CubeDudes, as well as beautiful images of massive Lego creations like a Yankee Stadium at the microscopic scale – lots of inspiration for anyone who has ever played with, and loved, Legos.

Clever Study of American Treasures

Roberta Olson

Audubon’s Aviary: The Original Watercolors of the Birds of America

This bird-themed book occupies a stand in the library of the The swag, the Waynesville, North Carolina hotel, which Anne Colquitt owns with her husband David. The book is intriguing, not only for the many bird watchers who come to the hotel to observe the region’s birds in the high altitude habitat, but also for other guests as the artist’s watercolors of the birds are at breathtaking in their detail. The watercolours, shown here in their entirety and newly photographed, are the basis of John James Audubon’s best-known prints. The images range from a flock of parrots in full cry to a group of many species of little owls. Says Colquitt, “Every few weeks I like to turn the page to a new bird, and it feels like a refresh of the art in the room.”

Compendium of a Pioneering Designer

Alexandra Cunningham Cameron

Willi Smith: Street Couture

As one of the first black designers to find success in the mainstream American fashion market, Willi Smith was a pioneer in the world of modern streetwear, known for his affordable yet gender-blurring pieces, which makes of this book of essays on the evolution of Smith’s style one by committing one to have on hand, says Matt Kane, founder of Creatives want change, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships and programs for young black creators. In addition to showcasing his fashions, the book documents his collaborations with famous artists like Nam June Paik and Christo. Kane hopes the book will make young designers more aware of Smith’s impact on the industry; and this introduction to his work and legacy is a smart choice “especially since many of his oversized shapes are all the rage right now.”

Discover a Spanish wonderland

Renu Kashyap and Maya Boyd

Ibiza Bohemia

Linden Pride is behind many restaurants and bars that are not only incredibly popular but beautiful to dwell in; he opened Dante and Dante West Villageone of which won the award for best bar in the world, for example, so it’s no surprise that he’s drawn to elevated visuals. A favorite title he keeps at home is this collection of vibrant photographs of Ibiza’s European playground, showcasing everything from its dive-friendly cliffs to its famous (and famous) inhabitants to its blue local architecture. and white. He’s so enamored with the book that it’s even inspired some of the restaurant concepts he’s developing overseas, he says. On a more basic level, the blanket brings a “fun pop of color” to a coffee table.

Spotlight on sport and style

Stan Smith

Stan Smith: Some people think I’m a shoe!

Featuring anecdotes from the life of 70s tennis great Stan Smith, lamenting his 13ft height, collaborations with the likes of Pharrell and Raf Simons— and documenting the rise of the cult Adidas shoe bearing his name, this book is both a time capsule and a conversation piece, says a celebrity tennis fan and manicurist Deborah Lipman. “Every time I have guests, they gravitate to this book, intrigued by the title,” she says. They keep flipping, marveling at the number of collaborations and releases, as well as the street-style photographs of the famous sneakers, adds Lippmann. (Her favorite in the book is a multi-colored speckled pair: “It reminds me of my shoes when I drop shoe polish on them…but so much more chic.”)

Black Utopia Photograph Collection

Hans Ulrich Obrist and Deborah Willis

I can make you feel good: Tyler Mitchell

Many people may be familiar with famed photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell’s polished imagery for magazines like Vogue or iD (he was the first black American to do a cover for American Vogue), but the artist’s personal work, highlighted in this book, is what Kane loves most. Brilliantly saturated, full-bleed images of young black men and women depicted in positions of power or experiencing joy are calmer but still deeply beautiful, he says. “There’s a richness to color and light that I find really inspiring,” says Kane.

A breathtaking view of the world

jimmy chin

Round trip: photographs from the edge

Another Bigi favorite is this series of death-defying images by Oscar-winning adventure photographer, mountaineer and filmmaker Jimmy Chin, from aerial shots of craggy cliffs to uninhabited stretches of snow to star-studded images of mountaineers scaling mountain peaks. peaks at night. Her breathtaking depiction of the mental and physical capacity of human potential is what she finds most compelling – and one that can be a powerful asset to anyone who encounters it on your coffee table. “The ethos of drive and passion beyond measure while relentlessly pursuing your goal and providing the world with a different perspective transcends climbing,” says Bigi, adding that it can resonate with anyone in a “ journey and a mission to leave the world a better place.”

Immerse yourself in automotive culture

Matt Hranek

A Man and His Car: Iconic Cars and the Stories of the Men Who Love Them

This intimate collection of men and their cars is another Pride top pick for personal stories of boldly named vehicle enthusiasts, from actor Ed Burns to basketball great Shaquille O’Neal, along with stylish photos of their favorite wheels. Author Hranek, who is also a friend of Pride, “takes the time to get to know each of the topics” when presenting his passion, he says. “It’s a great insight into a love affair with vintage cars.”

food for thought

Melanie Dunea

My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Last Meals

Curiosity is at the heart of this ambitious compilation in which photographer and author Melanie Dunea has captured celebrity chefs’ ideas of what they would like their last meal to be – with cheeky portraits (think Alex Atala posing topless with a cigarette or Tom Colicchio hanging from the second floor of a barn). Forough Vakilileader and founder of The Good Nosh, never tires of seeing it on his coffee table. From time to time, “I flip through the pages for inspiration and food ideas,” she says, “and the photography is super cool on its own.”

Deliciously esoteric encyclopedia

Manly P. Hall

The Secret Teachings of All Ages

When Whitney Frances Falkfounder and CEO of a sustainable furniture company ZZ Driggs, found an original first edition copy of this book for $25 in a Hudson Valley antique barn, she had no idea it would be one of her most valuable finds so far. day. The beautifully illustrated range of arcane topics – including examinations and explanations of alchemy, the zodiac, gemology, tarot and more – is what she finds intriguing, for herself and others. “I won’t even attempt to illuminate the discoveries within,” she says, “but I assure you that every time you open a page you will be enchanted by all the mysteries that surround us.”

Any advice, recommendations, or rankings expressed in this article are those of the WSJ’s Buy Side Editorial Team, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our business partners.

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