4 stars, for content in spite of questionable stylistic choices.
The key word here is frustrating. Florida Modern covers a fascinating subject, and doe...more4 stars, for content in spite of questionable stylistic choices.
The key word here is frustrating. Florida Modern covers a fascinating subject, and does a good job of it. It focuses on the residential work of several architects working in Florida between 1945 and 1970. Eighteen pages of introductory material succeed in placing the architects and their work in context with the times. It discusses the influences of the developments in Europe and Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School on these architects and most importantly, the idea of designing the house with its environment in mind. So far so good. What's the problem, then? In a word, layout.
The bulk of the book is broken down into four regional sections, and then into subsections for each individual architect or group of architects. Each house gets a little blurb, and a small floor plan if it's lucky, and maybe 2 to 6 photographs. Here's where the problem starts. I want to find whoever it was that thought it would be a good idea to overlay white text over black and white photographs and talk some sense into them, which may or may not involve a dark alleyway and a baseball bat. Overreaction? Perhaps. But I really don't think I can stress enough how annoying this was. All I can think of is that someone was going for some sort of "artsy" look here. The salient information was often cramped in small areas with plenty of open space around it. It's sometimes difficult to determine which captions refer to which photographs, and I soon gave up on trying to match them up on any but the actual house pages.
It's clear that the author, Jan Hochstim, did a lot of research and took care to give broad coverage to the subject. That, coupled with the photography, which was very good when it wasn't being thwarted by the page design, is enough to force me into a good rating. Florida Modern could have been so much better with a competent designer, but in light of my enjoyment despite that fact, I have to give it the benefit of the doubt.(less)