It’s no secret that we at Boss Hunting froth on a good coffee table book. The art of subtly decorating your house, or the office, with a strategically placed compendium is much more important to the art of interior design and personal style than you think. Having the best coffee table books lying around help communicate your interests to your guests and adds another layer of individuality to your personal space, plus it gives you something that deepens your knowledge on a subject to help you become a true renaissance man.
A good coffee table book can also be a great conversation starter, or it can actually have an impact on guests who take the time to sit down and flick through. Of course, they are there for you to read as well, and will help you constantly brush up on your favourite topics whenever the mood hits.
We’ve rounded up 34 of our favourite coffee table books for you to get across, splitting them up between style and fashion, art, design, sports and hobby, culture, and travel.
Style & Fashion Coffee Table Books
Tom Ford 001 & 002
Let’s get the most obvious one of the way first. Published in 2004, Tom Ford by Tom Ford has become one of the most inescapable hardcover tomes in the world, regularly appearing in well-heeled lounges and boutique waiting rooms with its slick black jacket and thick presence. The initial book primarily examines Tom Ford’s seminal work as the Creative Director for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, presenting a visual and poetic deep dive into his grand vision during these crucial moments.
Tom Ford 002, published in 2021, is very much a continuation of that approach. Dressed in white, the super stylish compendium is more than just a premium companion piece, taking a close look at the designer’s eponymous Tom Ford brand by tracking its inception in 2005 to what is now an empire of eyewear, menswear, cosmetics, and a critically adored womenswear line.
Of course, both are examples of a luxury festschrift done right. Now that the follow-up has been released, you can get both packaged together.
Dressing the Man: The Art of Permanent Fashion
Authored by the inimitable Alan Flusser, who is the ultimate connoisseur of taste and style, Dressing the Man is a 320-page hardcover coffee table book serving as the ultimate guide and authority on what men need to know and live by in order to dress well and look stylish without falling prey to fashion’s fickleness.
Coffee table books should always be picked and positioned to reflect your deepest values and desires, so as to communicate them effectively to anyone who steps inside your home. Dressing the Man is very much a fashion accessory through that lens, presenting a compendium that’s so highly technical and artful that it spans everything from discussions about face shape and neck height to pattern-to-pattern coordination and a discussion on dress codes.
The Impossible Collection of Watches
Assouline’s The Impossible Collection series hits its peak when it comes to the simply titled Watches, presenting a behemoth tome that’s even too large for most coffee tables. With a high price tag, the high-end cloth bound hardcover book has 144-pages with over 100 illustrations, exploring breakthrough timepieces of the 20th century, surveying some of the best watches you will ever lay your eyes upon. Brands like Omega, Breitling, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Patek Phillipe are brought to life with poetic descriptions and unmatched photography, making this large book the ideal gift if money is no issue and you’ve got a timepiece aficionado in your life.
A collector’s edition monograph on one of Japan’s most emblematic designers, the eponymously named Issey Miyake dives deep into the material and technical innovations that propelled the man during the early stages of his career. From the Body Series of the 1980s to the everyday designs of Pleats Please pieces, the self-titled book uses stunning photography and poetic essays to illustrate the life and times behind a true master of his craft.
Only 1,000 numbered copies of this book have been made, each presented in a bespoke book bag designed by the Miyake Reality Lab with folded shapes and pressed foil techniques from the 132.5. ISSEY MIYAKE project.
Helmut Lang 1986 – 2005 Archive Book, Collectors
Exploring seminal designs from the archives of Helmut Lang, this collector’s edition of two separate but complementary coffee table books features a total of 800 pages of tastefully shot pieces of the designer’s entire career. Coming from printings.jp, the set explores the Austrian-born designer and his career, with each archival piece immaculately styled and photographed over several months.
It’s hard to come across this valuable fashion book, so the rarity is certainly part of the appeal.
Peter Marino: the Architecture of Chanel
This 280-page coffee table book is born at the intersection of Peter Marino’s architectural authority and the aesthetic immersion of fashion-house Chanel. If you’ve already purchased Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows, also on this list, this would be a perfect companion as it explores Chanel’s luxury retail spaces with more than 300 images across plans, sketches, and project descriptions by local writers.
Seeing as Chanel has some of the most fascinating retail spaces across cities like Chicago, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Los Angeles, New York City, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo, there’s plenty of meat to this coffee table book.
The Essence: Discovering The World of Scent, Perfume & Fragrance
The multi-billion dollar perfume industry is a complicated beast, with a rich history sitting behind the art that’s often difficult to understand for both men and women looking to dial in a signature scent. The Essence serves as the ultimate education piece to help you pick your game up when it comes to choosing the best fragrances and colognes, filling in any knowledge gaps with a comprehensive deep dive into the history, culture, and science of perfumery.
Annie Leibovitz: Wonderland
An anthology of fashion images by the great Annie Leibovitz, with a foreword by Anna Wintour. This legendary photographer has been the subject of many books over the years, for good reason, but none have gone into the level of detail that Wonderland does, managing to curate 350 images – many of them previously unpublished – with a wide range of subjects from Nicole Kidman and Rihanna to Cate Blanchett and Lady Gaga.
Virgil Abloh. Nike. ICONS
Virgil Abloh leaves behind a legacy of a true visionary, swiftly reimagining the world of fashion and design and inspiring countless others who will no doubt be carrying the torch for decades to come.
Abloh’s genuine sense of boundless experimentation permeates this artful coffee table book, which details how the man reinvented sneaker culture and imprinted his own unique deconstructive vocabulary in the process of rebuilding for the better. Abloh’s influence and way of thinking extend to much more than just fashion, so this really makes the perfect gift for just about anyone.
Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows
Scouting for the best coffee table books to make your home look a lot more cultured is easy. Go for studies on the big guns. Karl Lagerfeld has had plenty written about him over the years, but The Chanel Shows is easily the finest and most engaging essay on the fashion icon to date.
10 years of Chanel’s most iconic fashion shows are tracked throughout this 108-page coffee table book, which was published in 2019 by Rizzoli. Photographer Simon Proctor illustrates the immense sets of Chanel’s high-energy special events, using multiple photographs to bring each to life, from a lush forest scene to a dramatic rocket launch. The result speaks to the artfulness of the fashion world and the carefully considered details that went into making Lagerfeld one of history’s most respected and valued designers.
The Men’s Fashion Book
The Men’s Fashion Book is an A-Z celebration of the people and brands that have built menswear into what it is today, exploring the many evolutions and advancements in men’s clothing and style so readers can break fashion down to its fundaments and build up their own individual way of presenting themselves to the world. Phaidon’s editors and Jacob Gallagher make for an authoritative and deeply resonate journey through menswear, from traditional suits to streetwear, profiling brands and retailers, stylists, writers, and tailors.
Art Coffee Table Books
Jean-Michel Basquiat. 40th Edition
There have been many monographs on the legendary Jean-Michel Basquait before, but only one has the distinction of being the world’s best seller.
Obviously, that’s this. And for the 40th edition of this acclaimed study into one of history’s most fascinating creative minds, pristine reproductions and examinations on the man’s seminal works have been condensed, refocused, and presented with insightful, poetic texts by editor Hans Werner Holzwarth and curator and art historical Eleanor Nairne. The intimate study is an unmatched look into Basquiat’s art, work, life, and guiding philosophies.
What Great Paintings Say. 100 Masterpieces In Detail
One of the best art books published by Taschen, What Great Paintings Say goes hard with 788 pages, diving deep into the world of art history with a bit of detective work thrown in for good measure. The result of over 100 world-famous works of art explored so beautifully, enhanced by clever and revealing details that’ll turn any regular bloke into a studied art curator.
Every art lover needs a tome on Abstract Expressionism sitting on their shelf, and there are few books out there as powerfully written and illustrating as Pollock. Obviously, this one follows the work of Jackson Pollock, exploring his life and explosive legacy by taking a wide-scope approach to his masterpieces and their place in the art world.
Sports & Hobby Coffee Table Books
The Fly Fisher
Consider The Fly Fisher the ultimate guide to the waist-deep art of fly fishing, detailing the art across 250 beautifully illustrated pages from design-focused German publisher Gestalten. The picturesque outdoor pursuit is distilled down into a book that anyone, no matter what their experience with fly fishing, can pick up and lose themselves in.
And really, that’s the type of coffee table book you want sitting in your home – something so convincing and immersive that anyone unfamiliar with the topic can pick it up and almost immediately walk away with a newfound love and appreciation.
Formula One: The Impossible Collection
Here’s another one from Assouline’s Impossible Collection, a 228-page linen hardcover book meditating the high-octane sport of Formula One and the culture surrounding the big race. Curated by notable F1 journalist Brad Spurgeon, the book showcases the skilled drivers and technical innovations behind the sport, swinging through big names like Juan Manuel Fangio, Bruce McLaren, Enzo Ferrari, Jim Clark, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt, and of course, Sir Lewis Hamilton
If you’ve got a beach house that needs decorating, few coffee table books are as essential as Surfing. 1778. From the calligraphy to the style, it’s the perfect embodiment of vintage surf culture, examining the epoch via a visual history with more than 900 images and essays by today’s leading surf writers.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars: Making A Legend
AAC Art Books wants to completely deconstruct and demystify the manufacturing process behind Rolls-Royce with this 295-page hardcover book led by Emmy-winning automotive journalist Harvey Briggs and novelist Simon Van Booy.
By showcasing the various artisans and makers involved in the construction of each car, at every single layer, the book is essential for lovers of luxury cars and takes an immersive approach when exploring the entire Rolls-Royce factory and the craftspeople that work there.
The Ultimate Ski Book
Whether you’re looking for the longest run in the Andes or the world’s greatest haunts for après-ski enthusiasts, chances are you’ll find all the details in The Ultimate Ski Book: Legends, Resorts, Lifestyle & More. A tome completely dedicated to the mighty mountain-sport, the 256-page book is the latest from skiing expert Gabriella Le Breton and German luxury publisher teNeues, aimed at illustrating just why skiing is more than a hobby or a seasonal sport.
More than 150 archival images and grand heli-skiing photos have been curated for this diverse study of the lifestyle and history surrounding skiing, illustrating some of the world’s most majestic descents, luxurious resorts, and prestigious chalets. Various ski superstars and influential figures, like cover-star Jean-Claude Killy, have come on board to help bring the book to life, making it a genuine exploration of how deep ski culture runs throughout the world.
Match Point: Tennis by Martin Parr
Famed photographer Martin Parr has revealed 85 of his most unique and evocative photos from a year at the Grand Slam tournaments, turning them into a book that tracks events like the Australian and French Opens as well as the US Open and Wimbledon.
Design Coffee Table Books
The Lives of Others: Sublime Interiors of Extraordinary People
Leading interior photographer Simon Watson leads the charge in this hardcover chronicle detailing the remarkable world of beauty occupied by some of the most fascinating people in the world. The 336-page book dips through 17th Century Italian palaces and noble residences in Spain, as well as retreats in the Swiss Alps and artists’ studios in Austria.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your own personal space, there are few coffee table books that will speak to anyone – not just the studied interior designer – as much as this esteemed publication from Rizzoli.
Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses
More than 400 of the world’s most glamorous mid-20th-century homes have been surveyed and detailed across 440-pages for this Phaidon classic. 290 architects have come together to showcase their work in this thoroughly researched book, from Marcel Breuer and Alvar Aalto, to Oscar Niemeyer and Richard Neutra. The result is a fascinating look at home design, getting at the very reason these design-forward books are always so valuable to have in the time. They’ll inspire any reader to think more about the spaces in which they live, so you’re giving your guests something that’ll resonate with them.
Living in the Mountains: Contemporary Houses in the Mountains
250 bright and immersive illustrations taken in scenes from Japan, Morocco, Argentina, Mexico, Australia, and more for Living in the Mountains. Exploring contemporary homes in mountainous settings, the book focuses on beautiful residential architecture elevated by grand settings, clearly set out to stretch the imagination when it comes to design and show the reader what’s possible when curated design meets nature.
Culture Coffee Table Books
Bond: Photographed by Terry O’Neill – The Definitive Collection
Published in May 2020, Bond is the definitive behind-the-scene photography book chronicling the legend and evolution of James Bond and the enduring legacy that has carried through the now-finished era of Daniel Craig. Terry O’Neill, the photographer behind the book, has a long and close history with the Bond franchise, having been given his first chance to photograph Sean Connery as James Bond back during the filming of Goldfinger.
The book features casual, on-set photographs detailing the lives of iconic Bonds like Connery and Roger Moore, accompanied by a series of original essays on the world of Bond by film writer James Clarke, as well as a few interviews with actors featured throughout the 252-page hardcover coffee table book.
The Japanese Garden
8 centuries of aspirational Japanese garden designs fill this Phaidon book with a genuine sense of zen, which is why you’ll likely find this inspired collection at some of the world’s best spas (including some of Sydney’s best spas). It’s quite simply the most comprehensive book on the art of the Japanese garden that has been published to date, spanning 304-pages as author Sophie Walker talks a – ahem – walk through over 100 featured gardens, exploring contemporary zen designs, leading architects, and other cultural figures via newly commissioned and in-depth essays.
Playboy: The Complete Centrefolds, 1953-2016
All 734 nude centrefolds highlighted during Hugh Hefner’s masterful Playboy’s Playmate of the Month series is featured within Playboy: The Complete Centrefolds. Preceded by an intro from Hefner and several essays from literary figures, The Complete Centrefolds is a complete and authoritative homage to Playboy’s entire aesthetic and cultural arc.
Spirited: Cocktails From Around The World
Spirited is a complete and wide-ranging collection of cocktail culture, featuring timeless recipes and providing details that really hammer them home for any bloke looking to up his game when it comes to shaking up the classics and making a few concoctions of his own.
Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End
In 2019, Magnus Nilsson closed one of the most unique restaurants in the world, shutting doors to the remote Swedish eatery Fäviken. In this incredibly insightful book by Phaidon, Nilsson discusses the hospitality industry with a blunt, sharp, and witty approach by telling the story of modern food culture through the lens of this one-of-a-kind restaurant. It’s a microcosm really, starting out by detailing one restaurant’s ascension to fame and spilling through to profound muses on social media, plagiarism, sustainability, the art of hospitality, and haute cuisine. Plus, the textural cover of blue cloth and red paper just looks incredible in any book collection.
The Impossible Collection of Wine
Again, the Assouline Impossible Collection series makes another appearance on this list, now turning attention towards the simply titled Wine. Want to guess what it’s about? Everything you need to know about the art of winemaking and the art of wine drinking is within these pages, making up a very thick and very expensive book that any discerning wine enthusiast would love to have sitting on their shelf.
Travel Coffee Table Books
Airline Visual Identity 1945-1975
The ultimate book for any aviation enthusiast, Airline Visual Identity 1945-1975 is an award-winning publication built on advertising conceived by some of the world’s leading creative minds like Massimo Vignelli and Academy Award winner Saul Bass. The nostalgic piece is a look at the golden age of flying and the visual identities that built the aviation industry to connect the world. Inside you’ll find hundreds of aviation posters, photos, and other illustrations, all pieced together to tell the story of how airlines went from obscure to inescapable. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of the books hanging around in the White House.
It’s advertising without the annoying online presence of retail links and various products featured.
The Grand Tour: The Golden Age of Travel
An expansive, deeply nostalgic coffee table book published by Taschen, The Grand Tour is an exploration of travel when it was still a relatively new and relatively inaccessible luxury, seeking to bring life to a bygone era of discovery with a deeply romantic view of global adventure. The best coffee table books are the ones that perfectly capture more than just a snapshot of the subject, and across 616-pages that’s exactly what The Grand Tour does, with independently selected memorabilia showcasing the diversity of travel.
The book is stacked with posters, tickets, menus, photocroms, and quotes distilling the excitement of discovery across destinations like New York City and San Francisco, to classic trips on the Orient Express and Trans-Siberian Railway. Simply put, everyone obsessed with travel nostalgia should have this book sitting pretty in their own home.
Where Architects Sleep: The Most Stylish Hotels in the World
The restorative embrace of a premium staycation can never be overrated, so it’s always worth knowing where exactly to rest your head wherever you find yourself in the world. Published by Phaidon, Where Architects Sleep is a beautifully illustrated guide to the world’s best accommodations, spanning 1,200 listings in more than 100 countries, dictated by 250 of the world’s leading architects.
Softer Volumes: Cafés
One of the few new releases on this list of the best books for coffee tables is this hidden gem published by Australian website Softer Volumes, presenting a high-end tome on the most beautiful and considered cafés in the world. For food lovers, taking an immersive look into some of the world’s most beautiful cafés is a much-needed escape and an insightful look into a great range of trends and styles that frame some of the world’s best by-day dining experiences. Across 350-pages, the natural fabric hardcover book features over 100 independently selected coffee shops in more than 70 cities.
Great Escapes Mediterranean. The Hotel Book
Once you get past the constant mentions of the azure-blue waters of the Mediterranean coast, this is a fine travel book from Taschen’s Great Escapes series, detailing stunning locations and accommodations like cave-like suites at Perivolas and the famous Hôtel Le Corbusier in Marseille. Lovers of fascinating and grand hotels won’t be able to put this beautifully illustrated book down, and it could go far in dictating that travel bucket list.
Best Coffee Table Books – Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best fashion coffee table books to own?
The best fashion coffee table books you can buy include Tom Ford 001 and 002, Issey Miyake, and The Impossible Collection of Watches.
What makes a good coffee table book?
A good coffee table book can add a lot to your interiors, with well-designed covers, and topics that reflect your personal tastes. Choose one that communicates your interests to your guests, as well as one that will teach them something new.
What is the best size for a coffee table book?
You’re going to want to choose coffee table books, of course, as a function of how big your coffee table actually is. The ideal size is around 10-inches in height, where anything smaller will lack the presence to make an impact.