The Quintessential Coffee Table Books 


The quintessential coffee table books have both substance and style going for them. They’re the rock stars of the book world; the larger than life characters that take centre stage in the room. Their flair attracts our attention. But these performers are not all show, and no tell. In lieu of their charm, they house a wealth of knowledge, garnered by prowess. Visual annotations are accompanied alongside methodology, and if their scope is proportionate to their weight and stature, they have much to offer. In this way, they’re the gift that keep on giving. Here’s why. 

The sheer volume of content is not something you knock-over in an hour. These are adult picture books, designed to approached with a childlike wonderment. It really comes down to mood and time. Sometimes the mood calls for visual inspiration, sometimes knowledge, sometimes both. Time is often judge and jury, knocking out our intentions once the gavel resounds. So our meeting can be fleeting, or otherwise. 

And like a child, when our attention is found again, our focus or perspective has changed. That’s because we’ve changed. We are not the same person we were yesterday, despite appearances being, more or less, the same. Our subconscious reality is often masked by our perceptual reality. Because of this, each subsequent encounter offers a new experience of potentiality – and as we are now carried by a fresh current, our trajectory has changed also.

We are led by our awareness, and what we notice at any given moment depends on our perception. In this way, these beastly tomes renew us over and over, as their breadth and depth continues to offer us new perspectives. If we approach them with reverence and without an ulterior-motive, we benefit from subliminal guidance. As hidden guides, they’re more objective than our conscious mind, as they are ruled by the forces of the subconscious. This gives us the freedom to explore without force, or adherence to dogma, instead inspiring us to move beyond our preconceptions. Consider these books your far-flung, well-traveled, consorts.

For many they are just that, providing much needed console, inspiration, clarity, and companionship. They offer a glimpse into the mind and creative process of those we admire and appreciate.  In this sense, they allow us to travel far and wide, informing our evolution along the way. Beyond this, they give us the joy to experience their beauty through their content and form. But that’s not all.

These icons have an aesthetic value and purpose that exceeds their substance. As larger than life characters, they signify works of art in themselves. Not unlike their sculptural counterparts, they serve as decorative objects beyond the coffee table. Not only do they offer a continuous source of inspiration, they enhance our space by their notable presence.

Visual interest is created by playing with their proportions, combining them with other objects, and experimenting with texture, colour and shape. Diversity within arrangements gives a space personality, individuality and depth, making a room more intriguing. Books can be displayed solo, grouped, and/or adorned with other decorative pieces. Let your intuition guide you. Here’s a compilation of some favourites to inspire you, to add to your own collection.

25 February 2022