You can tell so much about a person by their choice of coffee table books. Whether you’re into art, photography, fashion or music, coffee table books are designed to make a statement in your home, whilst of course offering some knowledge. Flick through the history of hip-hop, get lost inside Virgil Abloh’s world of fashion or dive head first into New York’s skateboard scene. Whether your book is there to be read, or simply to look dope on your table, we have collated our favourite picks of the best coffee table books around. Coffee table not essential.
BASQUIAT BY ELEANOR NAIRNE, $208 USD / £150
‘Jean-Michel Basquiat’ is a vibrant 500-page read, filled with the works of the New York artist and painter. The book follows the artist’s life year by year, and contains large scale reproductions of his work. Filled with detail orientated images, it’s a coffee table book that will get any Hypebeast visiting your home hyped.
FOREVER: THE NEW TATTOO BY ROBERT KLANTEN, $53 USD / £38
‘Forever: The New Tattoo’ explores tattoo artistry and its evolution from a taboo subject, into the mainstream culture we now associate it with. The book takes a closer look at the influences behind the different designs, the changing trends within the field and the innovative artists behind them.
NIKE: ICONS BY VIRGIL ABLOH, $57 USD / £41.15
Abloh and Nike are a match made in heaven. ‘Virgil Abloh Nike Icons’ features the documentation of the creative process behind their collaboration since it started in 2016. It also includes unseen photos and text messages between Abloh and Nike designers and gives you BTS access as Abloh analyses each shoe and what makes them so iconic
SUPREME BY PHAIDON PRESS, $49 USD / £35
This book is an essential for any streetwear addict, or anyone wanting to get educated on the brand. It gives you an exclusive look at the legendary brand. The 351-page hardback spans the label’s journey from 2010 through to 2018, highlighting important collabs, iconic products and Supreme’s biggest milestones.
ALL AMERICAN ADS OF THE 90S BY STEVEN HELLER, $40 USD / £29
All the American Ads from 1990? Yes please. Author Steven Heller takes us on a nostalgic journey through American marketing history. Flick through the best and worst ads of the decade, from Gameboy ads to luxury fashion items of the moment and the reinvention of the VW Beetle.
THE NEW BLACK VANGUARD: PHOTOGRAPHY BETWEEN ART AND FASHION BY ANTWUAN SARGENT, $39 USD / £27.99
Author and curator Antwuan Sargent takes a look at the representation of Black creatives within the fashion industry, showcasing work by some of the industry’s best. The collection of images tells a story of inclusion and exclusion, representation and misrepresentation. It features creative trailblazers such as Tyler Mitchell, American Vogue’s first Black photographer to shoot a cover and Nigerian-Jamaican photographer Nadine Ijewere.
PLAYBOY: 50 YEARS THE PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAMES R. PETERSEN, $29.95 USD / £22
A coffee table book should be iconic in every way and ‘Playboy: 50 Years: The Photographs’ is exactly that. From the ten million images kept in Playboy’s archive, James R. Petersen fills the book with famous sex symbols such as Pamela Anderson and Cindy Crawford and inspiring interviews with Mohammed Ali and Salvador Dali. This page-turner maps out the start of the sexual revolution, all the way through to what we recognize Playboy as today.
STAN SMITH: SOME PEOPLE THINK I’M A SHOE BY STAN SMITH, $55 USD / £40
Stan Smith is the inspiration behind one of the world’s most famous sneakers. The tennis legend reflects back on his career and the legacy he has left behind, including the eponymous shoe, which arguably has overtaken his legacy. It’s composed of 200 photographs and personal memories reliving the Stan Smith heritage, both the man’s and the sneaker’s.
ARSHAM BY DANIEL ARSHAM & VIRGIL ABLOH, $80 USD / £57
This is one for the minimalists. ‘Arsham’ takes us deep into the eponymous artist’s world, as he offers 272 pages of immersive aesthetical experiences. In this book, he plays with his signature theme of erosion, mimicking centuries-old decaying artworks and installations. As Arsham has worked closely with the world of fashion, Virgil Abloh joins the book to discuss the artist’s contribution to fashion and the post-media artistic landscape.
MANFRED THIERRY MUGLER, PHOTOGRAPHER BY MANFRED THIERRY MUGLER, $79.63 USD / £57
Manfred Thierry Mugler is known for inspiring creations, theatrical shows and innovative design. Having launched his first collection in 1973, the book spans his creative journey, following him around the world as he directs advertising campaigns and curates fashion photoshoots. With memorable moments and unseen photos, this is a definite page-turner for any fashion fanatic.
PRADA: THE COMPLETE CATWALK COLLECTION BY SUSANNAH FRANKEL, $51.74 USD / £37
It wouldn’t be a coffee table book list without one of ‘The Complete Collection Catwalk’ books. Take a look back at Prada’s history collection by collection, with images of past runway shows, celebrity influences from Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and a biographical profile of Miuccia Prada herself. The book is a reflection of the passion and determination the Italian fashion house has shown over the last century of business.
’93 TIL BY PETE THOMPSON, $43 USD / £30.65
This year will mark skateboarding’s debut in the Tokyo Olympic Games. With the sport finally receiving professional recognition, ‘93 til’ takes a look back at the last three decades of skateboarding. Focusing on the 90s as a pivotal decade for the sport, the book tells the story of a time where skateboarding was searching for an identity and a category to fit in, testing limitations and merging with a new innovative style of hip-hop culture.
WHILE WE WERE GETTING HIGH: BRIT POP & THE 90’S BY KEVIN CUMMINS, $27 USD / £19.74
Photographer Kevin Cummins, takes a nostalgic look back at the legendary era of Britpop. Through a series of intimate and unseen photographs, he shows the rise and fall of ‘Cool Britannia’ and the sex, drugs and failures that came with it. Featuring iconic British bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Verve, Cummins shows the evolution of 90s music culture through a somewhat sombre lens.
CONTACT HIGH: A VISUAL HISTORY OF HIP-HOP BY VIKKI TOBAK, $44.42 USD / £32
‘Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop’ is a chronological journey from old school hip-hop, into the genre we recognise it as today. Telling an in-depth detailed history of the genre, the book features rare outtakes from over 100 photoshoots, including essays from industry legends RZA, Fab 5 Freddy and Young Guru.
GUCCI: DAPPER DAN’S HARLEM BY ARI MARCOPOULOS, $243 USD / £175
The “King of knock-offs” / Harlem couturier Dapper Dan, captures his latest collaborative collection with Gucci, in this luxury, leather-bound read. Told through the photographic work of Ari Marcopoulos, he explores the fusion of high-fashion and hip-hop cultures. Sections of black and white photographs and coloured images explore the New York neighbourhood and the designer’s atelier. Finished off with a gold silk ribbon bookmark, this is Harlem’s bible to haute couture hip-hop.