This is an excellent study in how to bring items from different cultures together in contemporary living spaces. The author eschews "cluttered and unfocused 'hippie' rooms" as well as "self-consciously right-on ethnicism." She notes that "spare, uncluttered, modern rooms are very close in spirit to traditional ethnic interiors, where possessions are often of necessity minimal, and a certain elemental quality of surface and form is at the forefront." As you can tell, she has a very evocative way with words. The very first chapter "Points of Departure" is magnificent writing, including a fine section on ethical shopping. "The ill-paid labour of underage workers toiling in sweatshops, the destruction of fragile ecosystems, or the extinction of endangered species can be the unlovely reality behind the bargain by on the market stall."
The subsequent chapters are "Walls," "Floors," "Windows and Doors," "Furniture and Furnishings," and "Lighting and Display." Each chapter ends with several do-it-yourself projects. To my mind these are definitely the weak point of the book. The "sequined skirting" on page 42 has you gluing pictures of Hindu deities (erroneously referred to as Buddah (sic) motifs) at shoe-level, inviting scuffing and disrespectfully low. The "slate and ceramic floor" on page 66 looks torturous to walk on and a nightmare to clean. The "dream catcher" bead curtain on page 88 looks frightfully tacky and unless a beaded curtain is well made (all bead, no thread showing) it can stay perennially tangled. The craft projects are only a tiny portion of what is otherwise a brilliant book.
The photographs are well chosen and quite inspiring. The photograph on page 96 is exactly the same as the photograph on page 41 of Asian Elements and the credits are different. Hmm?
Abbeville Press, New York, (800)ART-BOOK, www.abbeville.com, 1999, 0-78962-592-0, 144 pages, color photographs, hardback