Well, maybe not. But at the very least, your design aesthetic is informed by what you read and look at; of this, I am convinced.
For that reason, I've always loved looking at the books that are used as props in shoots. It's sort of one of those guiltily satisfying games, you know? Books on display in rooms are funny things: either someone reads them and loves them, or wants you to think that they read them and love them. Involve stylists, decorators, proud homeowners and magazines with international readerships, and well, what you get is a fantastic game of artifice!
That having been said, these are a few of my (genuine) favorites at the moment (clockwise from top left.) As a side note, any of these would make fab gifts for the design minded and creatively inclined:
1. Artists' Houses by Gerard-Georges Lemaire, Jean-Claude Amiel. The lives and personal spaces of creative and eccentric people are a source of never ending interest to me. This book has all of the standards (Church, William Morris) and impressively, some more bizarre finds.
2. Faberge and the Russian Master Goldsmiths, by Gerard Hill, G.G. Smorodinova, B.L. Ulyanova. Gorgeous, glossy images of the famous eggs, jewelry, and other objets d'art. We've all seen the eggs—in my opinion its the copious images of snuff boxes, jewelry, and imperial gifts that make this book really worthwhile.
3. Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space by Brian O'Doherty and Thomas McEvilley. A really thought provoking look at the confines of the "white box" gallery and the ways in which artists have reacted to it. This one always makes me think about context, and how I choose to display art.
4. Vogue Living: Houses Gardens People by Hamish Bowles. This hefty volume has gotten a lot of hype, but in my opinion, it's well deserved. Of course, glossy images of interiors are always more interesting when there's a character involved, and there's a whole lot of character in here— everyone from Madonna to Julian Schnabel, and plenty in between.
5. Beds by Diane Von Furstenberg. Beds are an intimate window into their owner's lives, and good old Diane has assembled quite an impressive collection of some of the finest bedrooms around.
6. Dictator Style by Peter York and Douglas Coupland. This one is all in good fun. The tone is casual, but the writing leaves a lot to be desired. Some of the images are surprisingly posh, some are riotously hilarious.
7. Tony Duquette by Wendy Goodman, Hutton Wilkinson and Dominick Dunne. The images in here are literally like dreams. Think fantastical sets, elaborate costume balls, and creative, over the top interiors.
8. Confessions of a Window Dresser: Tales from the Life of Fashion by Simon Doonan. The bizarrely cool creative director from Barney's shares stories of eccentricity and comedy, alongside images of imaginative and surreal window displays. What's not to love?
9. Interiors by Minn Hogg, Wendy Harrop and the World of Interiors. Some of the best interiors you'll ever encounter, divided into several decorating "categories". I go back to this time and again. Enough said.
10. The Hermitage: The History of The Buildings and Halls ed. by Nina Grishina and Maria Lyzhenkova. Bar none, my favorite museum is the Hermitage. The way one views art here makes it worth the trip to Russia alone. This book is about the building itself, rather than the artwork hanging on the walls. Take note of the richly textured finishes and luscious use of color.