Design

The best coffee table books (and what to put them on)

From architecture to photography, here’s our pick of the best new coffee table books (plus the coffee tables they'd look best on)...

We all know that first impressions count the most. Which is why it’s important to get your sitting room – the first room any visitor to your home will see, after all – looking as top notch as possible. One quick way to achieve this is to have the right coffee table books – ones that look good, but also say something about you, your interests and your (obviously good) taste.  So here’s our pick of recently released coffee table books that we think will give your sitting room the boost it needs. And, to make your life even easier, we’ve picked the coffee tables to put them on, too. Happy reading.

Living in the Desert, Phaidon

New in from Phaidon, this beautifully-curated book of photography features 50 architect-designed houses built in deserts across the US, Europe, Asia and beyond. Striking rugged landscapes contrast with sleek modernist design elements – concrete, glass and metal are juxtaposed with dramatic rocky outcrops and exquisite views. Broken into three thematic chapters – houses built to embrace the desert, houses built within the desert, and houses built to resist the desert – it’ll instantly transport you to sun-baked lands far away from rainy London.

£29.95, phaidon.com

Put it on…

Made Lucien coffee table

This nod to classic mid-century modern furniture was designed by Tim Fenby for Made. Crafted from dark mango wood, its cast iron legs give it an industrial feel, while its striking, boxy design is just the sort of thing you’d find in a modernist desert house. You’ll just have to make do with your own front room. 

£299, made.com

Piano Complete Works 1966-Today, Taschen

Renzo Piano has transformed London’s skyline forever. But the architect’s salubrious career started over 50 years ago, and has encompassed everything from the Pompidou Centre in Paris to the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan. Such a body of work demands such a book as this, which takes in 688 pages of photographs, sketches, and plans that span Piano’s entire career to date. Striking, thought-provoking and always forward-looking, Piano is a titan of modern architecture – and well worth a place on your coffee table.

£135, taschen.com

Put it on… 

Habitat Seattle coffee table

With clean lines and an eye-catching silhouette, we feel Habitat’s Seattle coffee table gives a nod to Piano’s contemporary architectural style. The combination of chromed metal and glass brings to mind modern designs like The Shard and, much like many of Piano’s projects, provides a sharp visual counterpoint to its surroundings.

£350, habitat.co.uk

Roma, Assouline

Roma, Assouline

Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, Roma is the surprise late entry into the Oscars race. The film, directed by Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and made by Netflix, is a hypnotic, heart-wrenching tale set 1970s Mexico City. This book is its accompaniment, featuring images from the film as well as extra photos – taken by Carlos Somonte – of the set, props and locations. It provides a powerful visual meditation on the film’s themes of family, love and loss, and would make for an absorbing Sunday afternoon on the sofa.

$175.00, assouline.com

Put it on… 

Swoon Editions ‘Nyhavn’ coffee table

Set in 1970s Mexico, the underplayed interiors in Roma are a treat for fans of the era. This mango wood coffee table from Swoon Editions was inspired by the influential Scandi designs of the era, with its tapered legs, smooth angles and flash of brass. A nod to the era, instead of a carbon copy.

£329, swooneditions.com

Robert Doisneau: Music, Rizzoli

You might know Robert Doisneau for his iconic photos like The Kiss or for his images of Pablo Picasso. Now, the photographer’s passion for the music world comes alive in this new book, which features over 100 photos (many of them previously unpublished) of intimate moments in Paris between the 1950s and 1980s, with musicians like Eartha Kitt, Django Reinhardt and Juliette Gréco. His talent for street photography is also documented, with neighbourhood dances and brass bands captured by his fast-moving lens.

£21, amazon.co.uk

Put it on…

Loaf ‘Keeper’ coffee table

This vintage-inspired coffee table from Loaf finds just the right note of Swinging Sixties glamour. The hand-welded brass frame nods to the decadence of Paris in the era, while the oval shape is a signature of mid-century design.

Now £335, loaf.com