Spark Inspiration: Coffee table Books From Top Creatives

Originally published by The Scout Guide.

While the ubiquitous coffee table book has become an interior design staple in many stylish homes, these substantive home accessories can also serve as the perfect element for encouraging creativity. Here, seven Scouted creatives share the titles gracing their coffee tables—from an assemblage of arresting portraits to a collection of swoon-worthy tablescapes—that are sure to inspire and ignite conversations.

Nick Mele, lifestyle, fashion and interior design photographer, and co-author of A Newport Summer and Palm Beach Living

Rodney Smith: Photographs by Rodney Smith. “Rodney Smith’s book immediately envelops you into a world of humor and whimsy. He’s perhaps the greatest influence on my fine art work and I’m constantly trying to capture a portion of the fantastical dream world that he has created in his body of work.”

Once Upon a Time by Slim Aarons.. “An all too obvious choice, as many have called me ‘the new Slim Aarons.’ Slim was truly the master of the environmental portrait and his work is a romantic ode to a time period and group of people that were notoriously hard to capture. Of all the books out there featuring his photographs, this one is my favorite because of the wide range of work that it covers.”

Immediate Family by Sally Mann. “This may be the first coffee table book that I ever purchased. When I saw her arresting black and white portraits of her family, I was immediately enthralled with her ability to make me interested in portraits of someone else’s family. They are innocent and risque and beautiful and ugly all at the same time.”

Nick Mele appears in The Scout Guide Palm Beach

Kendall Kirk Singleton, artist and editor of The Scout Guide Hattiesburg

A Colorful Collection by Kendall Kirk Singleton. “Filled with colorful oil paintings I have done over the past 10+ years, it gives a glimpse into how my art has developed over time. It’s filled with flowers, beach scenes, sunsets, and other joyful subjects that inspire me.”

Interior Wisdom: Designing Your Heart and Home for the Lord by Leah Richardson. “This is a faith-based design book that really speaks to me. There’s scripture throughout and it features really beautiful interior images of comfortable, timeless designs.”

The Watercolor Road: Painting and Writing Through Americas South by Wyatt Waters. “Art books are so inspiring to me, especially this one! The images are so gorgeous— it’s truly a piece of art for your table.”

Tara Wegdam, co-owner of Crème de la Crème, a French and Italian-inspired boutique featuring objects, tableware, and gifts in Middelburg and Richmond, Virginia, and Frederick, Maryland

At the Artisan’s Table by Jane Schulak and David Stark. “I love to set a table and this book is a wonderful source of inspiration with beautiful photographs of unique table settings. The book shows how other designers get their inspiration and make interesting combinations for their table settings. I believe the best part about making a table is the company shared at the meal and I’ve discovered that when you take the time to create a gorgeous table, family and friends will linger long after the meal is complete.”

The Impossible Collection of Champagne by Enrico Bernardo. “This book is so intriguing because the labels are all unique. When we drink a special bottle of champagne I always want a souvenir—the cork, the label, or even the bottle. The French are experts on presentation and this book is an ode to them, a beautiful compilation of their champagnes and artful labels in a cork covered book.”

Louis Vuitton: Virgil Abloh by Anders Christian Madsen. “The pictures and insights into Virgil’s inspiration make me love the brand even more. This book on the coffee table is the next best thing to using a custom Louis Vuitton steamer trunk as a coffee table!”

Crème de la Crème appears in The Scout Guide Hunt Country.

Sarah Lagrotteria, founder and head educator of Just Bloom School, a creativity training school for organizations and educators in Worthington, Ohio

A Book of Days by Patti Smith. “In our business, we train people to spot exceptional information—the unusual, anomalous details our brains notice and our logical minds dismiss—because it’s a gateway to creativity. No one spots or loves exceptional information quite like Patti. This collection of daily moments reads like original prayers. I love that the book is physically thick with images and words, squat, and composed in the sepia tones of her old Leica. It’s a little jewel box from an observant, adoring soul.”

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern by Wanda M. Corn. “Flipping through, I stop at the shirts she made—all exquisite with delicate pleats—then at photos of her making silly faces. I love the tension between the serious artist’s self-fashioning and the joyful human at play. This book offers us a glimpse into the daily devotions, discipline, and domesticity of an extraordinary mind. It’s inspiring to be reminded of how little steps make up the whole.”

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney. “This book made a buzz when it came out in 2016 and it holds up. Back then, the photos mesmerized my four year old daughter. I can still hear her little finger hitting the page and her saying, ‘Mom, look at this woman. Is that HER office?’ Nowadays when it’s missing from the coffee table, I know she’s reading it in bed. The diversity of faces, bodies, dreams, and lives here frees you up to be you, by reminding you how many ways there are to be a beautiful woman, human, and creative.”

Just Bloom School appears in The Scout Guide Columbus.

Amanda Lantz, principal interior designer and president of Lantz Collective, a full-service interior design firm and home store in Naples, Florida, and Carmel, Indiana

More Is More Is More: Today’s Maximalist Interiors by Carl Dellatore. “Although I love designing in all styles, maximalism will always be close to my heart. Having the opportunity to be involved in the 2021 Kips Bay Showhouse in Dallas was truly a joy. Being ‘hugged’ by the most vibrant and textured interiors in addition to being surrounded by friends, colleagues, and just overall lovers of the style, multiplied my love for maximalism. Being included in Carl Dellatore’s book, More Is More Is More, was the icing on the cake. So many of the designers in this book are dear friends and whom I admire most. Being featured with them ranks this as my #1 favorite book of all time.”

Chanel The Impossible Collection by Alexander Fury. “My love of beautiful fashion and accessories started at a young age. My grandmother had the most delightful clothing shop when I was growing up and she and I shared a love for pretty fabrics, unique jewelry, and shoes. My grandmother and grandfather met in London, where my grandma grew up. Their love story is remarkable – she came over on RMS Queen Elizabeth, to marry my grandfather. As an immigrant in the United States, she was a fabulous entrepreneur having her own clothing store. Coco’s story is fascinating, and it reminds me of my grandmother. I love how this book highlights Coco’s most beautiful pieces. Timeless.”

Yves Saint Laurent At Home by Jacques Grange. “Combining fashion with design, who doesn’t love a book about that? This book just screams ‘exquisite taste’ on so many levels. The pages of this book are enchanting and easy to get lost in with a latte in hand. I am a big believer in combining fashion with design and as a result, in almost all of my projects, there is a nod to fashion. That’s why I love this book—it reflects the personal style of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. Breathtaking!”

Lantz Collective appears in The Scout Guide Naples. All titles available for purchase at Lantz Collective. To purchase, call: 239.877.6996

Emily Wiley, owner and designer at Emily Wiley Interiors, a full-service interior design firm in Augusta, Georgia

Celebrating Home: A Time for Every Season by James T. Farmer, III. “Author, interior designer, and host extraordinaire, James Farmer takes us on a tour of his personal homes and gardens, each showcasing wonderfully layered tablescapes and décor tailored to various celebrations throughout the year.”

Of Common Origin: New Architecture of the American South by Barrett Austin. “This book explores the work and philosophy of many powerhouses of southern architecture (such as Bill Ingram, Tippett Sease Baker, and Keith Summerour). Each firm shares a glimpse of the common threads that they share: an intentional use of honest materials, the imaginative rendering of hand-drawn plans, and the mindful creation of atmosphere within the home.”

The Big Book of Chic by Miles Redd. “Written in 2012 and filled with stunning imagery of Redd’s designs, this book remains on my list of favorites. The volume showcases bold, full-bleed images interspersed with graphic, whimsical quotes. Styled in a stack with other books or opened to your favorite spread, it’s a stunning addition to any coffee table.”

Emily Wiley appears in The Scout Guide Augusta.

Casey Yoshida, co-founder of Brightside; photographer and co-creative director of The Scout Guide Chattanooga

Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design by Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham. “This is one of my favorite design books that has actually made its way to my studio. Saul’s work as a visual artist is some of the most aesthetically recognizable of the 20th century. His body of work spans so many different genres from corporate identity design to film. His versatility as a multidisciplinary designer is absolutely astonishing.”

The Polaroid Book by Barbara Hitchcock. “This book was gifted to me by the parents of a little girl I babysat in college. It’s probably the most incredible collection of Polaroids I’ve ever seen in one single book. The mother of my charge used to have her writing students open the book to an image and use it as a prompt for creative writing. That’s truly how unique each photograph is throughout its 250+ pages. A beautiful tribute to a medium that has defined, and in many ways, defied the ages.”

Annie Leibovitz: At Work by Annie Leibovitz. “Annie Leibovitz is my favorite photographer, as is the case for most photographers who work in the brand or fashion space. I was fortunate to hear Annie’s lecture when she released this book in 2017. This book addresses readers, specifically photographers, interested in what photographers do. However, anyone can find inspiration in this book just by the incredible life and body of work of this extraordinary woman.”

Brightside appears in The Scout Guide Chattanooga.

Ruth Runberg, founder of R. Runberg, and a purveyor of furniture, accents and gifts for the home, based out of Charlotte, North Carolina

Massimo Listri: Cabinet of Curiosities by Giulia Carciotto and Antonio Paolucci. “I am absolutely enchanted by the 17th century wunderkammer, a room or space filled with extraordinarily collections of beautiful and precious curiosities from the natural world. Over several decades, photographer Massimo Listri traveled to seven European countries to photograph each of the 19 extraordinary collections highlighted in this book, some of the most beautiful collections in the world. The book is a feast for the eyes and offers a fascinating cultural history.”

Portraits and Caftans of the Ottoman Sultans by Nurhan Atasoy. “An unforgettable trip to Istanbul years ago left me fascinated with the magnificence of the Ottoman Empire. Chronologically ordered, this lavishly illustrated large-format book traces the clothing worn by each of the 36 Ottoman sultans ruling across six centuries. Coupled with their unrivaled military prowess, artistic patronage and expert political command, the gold thread, fur linings, diamond studding, and vibrant colors of the sultans’ caftans were as magnificent as the lifestyles these rulers led.”

Yves Saint Laurent at Home: Life with Yves and Pierre by Jacques Grange and Marianne Haas. “This is the newest book chronicling the exceptional interiors and gardens of the homes of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. Each of their spaces is filled with layers and layers of wildly varying textiles, objects and furniture arranged together as one extraordinary and cohesive collection. This step into the world of this legendary duo is endlessly inspiring!”

R. Runberg appears in The Scout Guide Charlotte.