on February 14, 1998
I got to take a look at this book in the UMASS non-circulating collection. It was beautiful, covered with a gold patterned cloth. Inside, the paper and reproductions of the carpets and art work were of the very best quality. I read the introduction and skimmed through the subsequent chapters. After my breif encounter with this book, I felt as though I had found the secret heart of Alexander's architectural theories. Somehow his passion for these carpets seemed to be the kernal from which his volumes have sprung.
on January 30, 2002
Christopher Alexander is known among architects and maybe even more among computer enthusiasts. If you are one of them (us) and know his other work, you would be surprised by this book.
It deals with carpets, specifically Turkish carpets.
A friend of mine lent me this book and I was fascinated. It has a certain passion for its subject and its interesting even if you don't know anything and don't care anything about carpets. Author explains about some items in his quite large collection of carpets and why he finds them not only rare and valuable as an antique but also beautiful.
The beauty of a carpet lies in its pattern and here we get to familiar grounds (as for example in his »A Pattern Language«). A pattern consists not only of the ornament but also of the negative space, the area remaining. He explains on examples from his collection. And one wanders if there is yet another application of his theory beside architecture per se, computer design and carpets.
Still its quite expensive, but if you happen to lay your hands on it, go ahead and enjoy.
on May 19, 2006
I love and leave my books, but I'll never part with this one. I look at it daily and always find something new and edifying.
The book's raison d'etere is Alexander's magnificent collection, displayed in glorious photos. But if you feel frustrated/disgusted or uncomfortable/uneasy toward modern design, art, or architecture, you'll appreciate Alexander's axioms for objectively evaluating the aesthetic quality of the carpets. Alexander hopes that a generalized version of these axioms will save us from the ugliness of modernism and get human beings back into the business of creating truly beautiful things, whether carpets, buildings, comptuer programs, etc. That's why he titled it "A foreshadowing..."
Alexander comments on each carpet in the collection, describing the fascinating detective work that went into placing and dating each piece, as well as pointing out the most noteworthy elements of the patterns and colors. His commentary causes me to appreciate each carpet as a historical piece with tremendous significance to today -- the carpets are seemingly messengers from the past, reminding us of truths that have long been dormant in the human spirit.
He describes the best carpets as evoking a presence that is both human and divine. He says that a reliable way to judge the "better" of two carpets is to ask people which of the two they would choose to represent their own self or soul. Even carpet-naive people will consistently choose the more valuable carpet, even if it's not the one they "like" best. Interesting, right?