by Meghna MehtaMar 19, 2020
What is the name of the book?
Takaharu Tezuka (TT): The book is called The Stones of Venice.
Who is the author?
TT: John Ruskin, edited and abridged by J. G. Links.
What is the genre?
TT: Non-fiction, architecture, history.
Why this book? Could you highlight any notable aspects of it?
TT: I found that this book is an excellent guide for architects to understand the nature of architecture. The book is about the history of architecture in Venice, but the book is different from any other guide. John Ruskin has put value of each architectural element onto the pleasure of craftsmen.
Did you get any significant insights? Did you gain knowledge or did it help unwind?
TT: The Stones of Venice is not just the material but the collection of craftsmanship. When craftsmen are having more pleasure in creating, the value of architecture gets higher. The situation makes people happier. The idea expands the sociological structure beyond the boundary of architecture. The vision about nations is a little out of date, yet there are things we can learn. There are things which will never change for millenniums.
Is there any one thing that you would take home from the read?
TT: I first read the book when I was in university. So, at that time, I was around 22 or 23 years old. I was writing a paper for my thesis and was really fascinated by John Ruskin’s writings because he was not just talking about design. The book offers us an insight to connect sociological ideas with architecture. He was giving me a method to evaluate design and architecture from a ‘labour’ point of view, the understanding that somehow the people working on the project would feel good when they are working on a good project. If you are just copying ideas, there would be no fun. In the olden days of Venice, people used to enjoy making sculptures, to leave something behind after their lives. The book The Stones of Venice is about Venetian architecture and he was saying that Venetian architecture was not just about design. But it also represented the history of Venice and the joy of work. Venice is known to be one of the most successful canal towns of all time. It is where the essence of the Mediterranean Sea is concentrated in. Ruskin explained how each ornament was doing the same thing as culture.
What is your take on the book? Yea or Blah?
TT: The book was my first lesson; reading through these texts, I started to understand the meaning of design and the importance to find reasons behind each design detail. The things I learnt from this book has made an influence on me even up till now, I make reasons every time when I design. After reading the book, I visited Venice multiple times and I confirmed that these were all true. I extended my journey to eastern Istanbul which used to be known as Constantinople. The book also became the opportunity for me to travel throughout many countries along the Mediterranean Sea. After reading the book, I started making water colour paintings as well. I used to publish my water colour paintings in a magazine in Japan and I used to write essays of my journey with my water colour paintings. I think I got some influence from John Ruskin because he used to do the same.
When do you read?
TT: I read when whenever I get confused about my design or have trouble finding ideas. Playing the piano provides the same help to me.
Look up more such interesting reads from the series ‘What Am I Reading’ here.