Published from 1997 to 2004 by artist Joe Holtzman, Nest magazine rejected the predictably beautiful luxury interiors fêted by other publications of the period, opting instead to highlight subversive, extraordinary, and, at times, entirely bizarre living environments. The Best of Nest, created by master bookmaker and former fashion designer Todd Oldham and published by Phaidon, includes selections from all 26 issues in a series of portfolios featuring the work of influential writers and photographers such as Michael Cunningham, Patti Smith, Nan Goldin, and Derry Moore. The book includes an introduction by Oldham, as well as an extensive essay by Holtzman, filled with new observations and a behind-the-scenes look at each issue’s creation. Until now, it had been hard to view and appreciate this beautifully off-kilter magazine as dedicated collectors tend to snap up any available copies on eBay as soon as they’re listed.
In 2001, American fashion icon, André Leon Talley, then Vogue’s Editor-at-Large, was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Lenox Hill’s staff had the clinical side of Talley’s needs covered, but his friend Joe Holtzman noticed some aesthetic requirements had gone unaddressed. A bare hospital ward was no place for a style conscious man such as Talley. “Who, after all, is more alive to the pain gaping empty rooms cause than those who live for beauty?” writes Holtzman in The Best of Nest. “Who else understands how easy it is to soothe such pain with a few charming appointments?” Holtzman slipped into Talley’s ward, to revamp his friend’s bed and room with Frette linens, an Hermès blanket, a portrait of Diana Vreeland, and a Pierre Bonnard painting. The results, which were published in the magazine’s summer edition of that year, stand in testament to Holtzman’s ambition to champion beautiful and unusual interior decor, even in the most unexpected contexts.
Organised chronologically, The Best of Nest presents each issue in a 16-page portfolio. An edit of the best stories, the best photographs, and the best design treatments have been selected and amplified in this lavish volume. Replicating many of the clever and singular design elements that endeared Nest to its passionate fans around the world, The Best of Nest includes gatefolds, foldouts, diecuts, and covers with silver foil and glitter. The 524-page, hardback book includes plenty of well-known homes, belonging to prominent figures from the worlds of art, film and fashion. Look out for John Waters’ idiosyncratic abode in Baltimore, Maryland, and Julian Schnabel’s palatial Hamptons house. However, for every famous name, there’s an equally arresting, obscure inclusion that shows just how varied and surprising interior design can be.
Discover an uncannily detailed Farrah Fawcett-themed bedroom; the men’s room at Manhattan’s Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center that Keith Haring decorated in his own inimitable style; prison cells at the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility; beehive-shaped mud houses in Syria; and the home of a Virginia woman who lived with 171 cats. The illustrious Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas called Nest “an anti-materialistic, idealistic magazine about the hyperspecific in a world that is undergoing radical levelling, an ‘interior design’ magazine hostile to the cosmetic”; while the artist Richard Tuttle said that, “Holtzman channelled the collective unconsciousness, to give us the pleasure of ornament before we even knew we wanted it.”
The Best of Nest is available to pre-order now from Phaidon.
Feature image: Nest, Issue 20 (Spring 2003), featuring a suburban ranch house. Courtesy The Best of Nest by Todd Oldham. Published by Phaidon. Text by Tom Vanderbilt. Photograph by Robert Polidori.