Ornament is Crime: Modernist ArchitectureMatt Gibberd and Albert Hill

An unprecedented homage to modernist architecture from the 1920s up to the present day

Ornament Is Crime is a celebration and a thought-provoking reappraisal of modernist architecture. The book proposes that modernism need no longer be confined by traditional definitions, and can be seen in both the iconic works of the modernist canon by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, as well as in the work of some of the best contemporary architects of the twenty-first century. This book is a visual manifesto and a celebration of the most important architectural movement in modern history.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 290 × 250 mm (11 3/8 × 9 7/8 in)
  • Pages: 224 pp
  • Illustrations: 300 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780714874166

Matt Gibberd is a Founding Director of The Modern House, a London-based property company selling Britain’s finest design-led housing. Matt has an MA in History & Art History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a family of architects, and is the grandson of the celebrated Modern Movement architect Sir Frederick Gibberd. Matt has overseen the sale of some of the capital’s most iconic property, including buildings designed by John Pawson, David Adjaye and Maxwell Fry. Formerly a Senior Editor at The World of Interiors magazine, he has written on architecture, art and design for The Telegraph, GQ Style and Acne Paper, and contributed to numerous books.

Albert Hill is a Founding Director of The Modern House, a London-based property company selling Britain’s finest design-led housing. He graduated from the University of Bristol with a BA in Art History. Pursuing his passion for the crossover between architecture and commerce, he came up with the idea for The Modern House and founded the company in 2005. Albert has an unrivalled knowledge of the UK’s modern houses. Previously, Albert was the Design Editor at Wallpaper* under founding editor Tyler Brule, and has written for The Guardian, The Times and The Independent. He has also contributed to a number of books, and has commentated on architecture and property on both TV and radio.

"Ornament is Crime journeys between the decades to liberate Modernism from its traditional definitions and proposes its continuing presence in the in the work of 21st century architects... [With] elegant spreads and striking examples... An intriguing manifesto... The use of quotes from cultural figures as diverse as Leonard Cohen and Kazimir Malevich here reframes Modernism as a timeless dialogue."—Aesthetica

"A gorgeous collection of black-and-white photographs of homes by modern masters and contemporary architects."—Curbed

"Beautifully illustrated throughout, this thought-provoking compendium invites you to discover modernism's journey from the 1920s to the present day... Inspiring... Ornament is Crime is also interspersed with classic song lyrics, literary excerpts and insightful quotes [...] adding depth and context to the featured images."—CreativeBoom.com

"Demonstrate[s] how the tenets of modernism remain relevant today... [A] book for fans of modern architecture looking for a survey of projects that exemplify the elite execution of this seemingly evergreen architectural ideology."—MrPorter.com

"Looking pretty essential is Ornament is Crime... Substantial too. There's more to it than just being a reference guide. The book also features Matt Gibberd's personal story surrounding the establishment of The Modern House estate agency, as well as classic song lyrics, literary excerpts and insightful quotes from some of the leading figures of modernist architecture." —Wowhaus.co.uk

"Feeling the love for Le Corbusier, mad for Mies van der Rohe? Then you may well want to get your Modernism-loving mitts on the latest tome from those savvy Modern House lads Albert Hill and Matt Gibberd... Peppered with quotes from everyone from Leonard Cohen to Russian artist and theorist Kasimir Malevich, the book is a passionate Modernist manifesto from two people who really know their Villa Savoye from their Brno."—InsideModernism.co.uk

"Compiles the most influential works of Modernism every constructed... A remarkable collection of buildings under a renewed Loos-ian heading... A truly global selection of striking modern homes... An impressive survey, certain to surprise even the well-versed with its thoughtful juxtapositions and inclusive gaze... In compiling their collection, the authors also made two surprising decisions that sets the project apart from most coffee table tomes. Eschewing chronology, they consistently place buildings from different places and times together on the same page, eliciting unexpected connections and formal dialogues."—AnOtherMag.com

"A much-needed re-evaluation of Modernist architecture... Breathing life into Modernist work past and present, reflecting on its ideals and infused with a furious aversion to the perils of unnecessary ornament... [An] impressive volume."—Ham & High (Hampstead & Highgate Express)

"Opens up the modernist canon to include both contemporary buildings and lesser-known examples from around the world... Asks what modernism means today..."—Port-magazine.com

"If you’re a fan of modernist architecture, you’ll love new Phaidon book, Ornament is Crime. Showcasing the finest examples of this innovative architectural style, it covers everything from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe icons, to contemporary designs by Tadao Ando and John Pawson."—TheGuardian.com

"Spectacular... Beautifully illustrated... [A] thought provoking compendium."—New Design

"A vivid and unpedantic presentation of modernist houses with a fresh wind blowing among them."—Interior Design

"Showcases striking buildings from the 1920s on."—Wall Street Journal

"If you're a fan of modernist architecture, you'll love new Phaidon book, Ornament is Crime. Showcasing the finest examples of this innovative architectural style, it covers everything from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe icons, to contemporary designs by Tadao Ando and John Pawson."—TheCultureTrip.com

"Exquisite... A very lovely thing."—Grafik.net

"Stunning... A visual celebration of modernist architecture... A visual manifesto and thought-provoking assessment of modernism."—Dwell.com (US)

"Beautifully illustrated... All the projects are free-standing houses, demonstrating how Modernism has embedded itself into our everyday culture."—Self Build & Design

"A paean to the smooth lines and grey starkness of modernist architecture. It features deliciously austere black-and–white photographs."—Independent I

"This book demonstrates why modernism remains relevant to us today—both as makers and observers."—Cool Hunting

"A visually stunning book that celebrates modernist architecture and its evolution."—Dwell Online

"Perfect for tiny chefs who want to help in the kitchen."—Pregnancy & Newborn

"A visual manifesto... Ornament is Crime celebrates all things minimalist and, more importantly, displays a selection of freestanding houses that demonstrate how modernism has imbedded itself into our everyday culture and been embraced by people in every level of design."—Amuse-i-D.vice.com

"Eloquently argues the case for applying the elementary principles of modernist architecture to domestic housing... Dazzling black-and-white photography distils shapes and augments contrasts by enhancing the sculptural impact of light and the images are interspaced with quotations from philosophers, poets, musicians, architects and politicians."—Morning Star

"Modern marvel or bleak box? Modernism is one of the most divisive architectural movements of the 20th century... Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill [on] why it's time for us to reassess our definition of modernity."—Monocle.com

"A great name for an even better book... With sumptuous images of sleek, beautifully designed houses... This book will inspire any reader to cut the clutter and bid adieu to the bling. Let’s hope someone buys it for Donald Trump."—Hong Kong Tatler (Hong Kong)

"Grey doesn't always have to be ugly. Or boring, for that matter. Take Ornament is Crime, a whole book devoted to the most grey, most brutal modernist architecture the world has to offer, all presented in glorious monochrome. See, it's not so bad after all."—Shortlist

"Let's face it, no coffee table is complete without an inspiring and substantial hardback (the more pictures, the better) on architecture. Ornament is Crime: Modernist Architecture is that book... A detailed introduction provides an informative insight into the stunning buildings to come. Expect extreme house envy."—The Essential Journal

"Yes it is!' then this new book about modern architecture from Phaidon is for you... This picture book is lush with photos of every great modern building... Narrated with thought-provoking quotes from revered architects and cultural figures... Each photo feels vibrant and exciting."—Design Skool