Here is my top 5 (I couldn’t pick just 3):
1. Adamson, Glenn. Thinking Through Craft. Oxford and New York: Berg, 2007.
Craft has been trying to define itself since before I began making things. As I grappled with my identity as a maker Thinking Through Craft certainly provided a roadmap. Essentially a 169-page definition of craft in the current socio-cultural landscape, this book is the new standard craft theory text. A must read.
2. Boris, Eileen. Art and Labor: Ruskin, Morris and the Craftsman Ideal in America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.
A brief history of the British Arts and Crafts Movement and how it manifested in the rapidly industrializing United States. Replete with chapters on organizational and economic development, and rich in its multicultural and non-gendered biased perspective, this book fills in the historical gap between the thoroughly covered British movement and the Studio Craft Movement circa 1950.
3. Walker, Rob. Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. New York: Random House, 2008.
The book every craft organization executive director should sleep with next to their bed. Craft needs to be branded for the masses, and Walker gets how marketing works today. Written in an accessible and easy to read style, it was a pleasure to read.
4. Buren, Daniel. “The Function of the Studio.” Trans. Thomas Repensek. October, Vol. 10 (Autumn 1979): 51-58.
The bad boy of the French Academy in the late 1960’s, now lionzed in museum collections world wide. In The Function of the Studio Buren questions “the art system” in a wry and biting criticism of accepting the way things are. For anyone who ever asked themselves, “isn’t there a better way?,” Buren can offer insight.
5. Atterbury, Paul., ed. A.W.N Pugin: Master of Gothic Revival. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995.
A.W.N. Pugin is usually the forth name that you don’t remember after Ruskin, Morris, and Stickley. A contemporary of Ruskin who championed the Gothic Revival in England, but who could have cared less about the handmade, Pugin’s romantic, Christian and moralizing doctrine laid the groundwork for the Arts and Crafts Movement. An exhibition catalog of the 1995 show at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, Master of the Gothic offers 10 essays on different aspects of Pugin’s origins, contributions, and legacy to decorative arts.