Eye Candy: Seeing and Knowing the Surfaces that Surround Us


Now here’s one really unusual book – actually a series of books from the outstanding publisher, W. W. Norton.  They ain’t cheap but they sure are pretty. 


Everywhere I travel, I am amazed by the variety of surfaces I encounter.  Our walls, ceilings, floors, and the earth itself present an amazing array of textures, from hard to soft, bright to pastel, silky to woolly.  Judy Juracek has for many years been finding the very best photos of these surfaces.  Her series of “Surfaces” books each contains the photos, 3 to 6 per page, and a CD containing all the images, in high resolution format.  These files are intended for use by architects and designers of all types, but I find them inspiring just to look through, or to play with in my own art.



The first volume, simply called Surfaces: Visual Research for Artists, Architects, and Designers, came out in 1996, and includes over 1200 images grouped into Wood, Marble, Stone, Brick, Plaster/Concrete/Aggregates, Glass, Metal, and Tile.  Nothing very soft there, so that book was followed by  Soft Surfaces in 2000, chapterized into Basic Weaves, Printed Painted Dyed Fabric, Brocade Damask Double Cloth, Needlework, Pile Weaves, Lace Knits Crochet Trim, Rugs & Carpets, Nonwovens, and Furnishings and Structures.  Apparently designers loved these massive resources, and in 2002 Natural Surfaces was published, containing Trees & Shrubs, Flowers, Foliage, Grass, Fruits Vegetables Fungi, Stone Sand Land, Water Ice Snow, and Sky & Clouds.  Rounding out the four-volume set was 2005’s Architectural Surfaces, broken into Walls, Facades, Ornament & Molding, Columns Posts & Arches, Windows, Doorways, Ceilings & Roofs, and Floors & Pavements.  Whew!  You can see that you are unlikely to run into any surface, anywhere in the world, that is not represented in this collection.



Certainly if you are working with 3-D software or designing sets for architecture, games, or film, this set would be hard to live without.  But if you find sheer joy in imagery, as I do, you will also gain plenty of pleasure.  I have shown a few of the images below.  You can spend about $250 to get the full four volumes (Amazon prices) or you can dip your foot in one tome (about $60) at a time.






























  1. I could do my own addition from the textures I collect with my camera. Thanks for sharing!