The biggest problem with living in an old commercial building is light. Lofts may not have skylights; many commercial spaces only have windows along one side; and, since sunlight provides the major source of illumination, industrial and more modern commercial spaces can be--and often are--downright dingy.
The dramatic, sprawling character of the open loft, while it might reflect the nonconformist artistic aspirations of its occupant, is just as often a practical necessity: partitions would get in the way of what precious light exists. Not only does The International Book of Lofts trace the rise of lofts--from practical workshops-cum-living spaces for artisans and artists to the self-important style statements of writers, fashion designers, and accountants--it is also a photographic compendium of solutions to the antagonistic problems of light, space, and privacy. Ranging widely from city to city, from minimalist temple to faux-Medici palazzo, the authors even find room to consider those purpose-built houses and apartments that borrow from the loft aesthetic.
The irritatingly precious text--of the sort that "tells" the planning of a space and "situates" its rooms--is minimal and of little importance anyway. The photographs are eloquent enough, and tell their own engaging story. --Simon Ings, Amazon.co.uk