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The Look for Less: Ceramic books by Klein Reid versus Z Gallerie

Picnik collage

Books have been a staple of decorating for so long that it's hardly surprising that some enterprising designer kept the form and did away with all of those pages. In 2004, the New York porcelain studio Klein Reid created handsome books in bisque and glossy finishes as part of its Stilllife series. The books were bestsellers for Klein Reid, and two years later, the studio expanded the line with new sizes.

Now Z Gallerie has produced a less expensive set of ceramic books. One of the photos above shows the Klein Reid original, sold in a set of five for $350. The other shows the Z Gallerie library, $119.60 for eight volumes. 

Keep reading to find out which is which and how their differences go well beyond prices ...

  The Klein Reid Stilllife Book Set, shown on the left at the top of this post, is slip-cast in porcelain and hand finished in the firm's New York studio.

Unglazed ceramic books "There are different clay bodies with different strengths," co-owner David Reid said in an email, explaining the differences among types of ceramics. "Porcelain is the finest, whitest, most pure and most translucent."

These properties make porcelain more difficult and expensive to work with, hence the $350 price tag.

The books in glossy white range from 4 1/2 to 10 1/2 inches tall and 1 inch to 2 1/2 inches thick. They can be used as bookends and also can become vases: When turned upside down, a hole for flower stems is revealed.

Klein Reid also has a limited supply of four-volume unglazed sets, right, that were produced in China during a two-month artists' residency. That set sells for $198 on the Klein Reid website.

 The Z Gallerie Ceramic Books, on the right at the top of this post, include two stout volumes measuring 8 and 8.8 inches tall and about 2 inches thick. They were made in Asia.

Ceramic books in aquamarine Like the Klein Reid designs, they emulate the look of old leather-bound books with ribbed spines and delineated pages. They cannot, however, be used as vases. They are sold separately in Z Gallerie stores for $14.95 and $19.95 each; they are only sold online as a set of eight for $119.60.

The same set in this season's new color, aquamarine, right, sells for $159.60.

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Venice store takes on Restoration Hardware over vintage reproductions

-- David A. Keeps

Photos: Klein Reid, Z Gallerie 

The Look for Less appears here on Tuesdays. For an easy way to follow future installments, join our Facebook page dedicated to home design.

 
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Or you could spray-paint some old discarded books a glossy color for the cost of a can of spray paint.


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