Barbra Streisand, Design Diva

Barbara Streisand My Passion for DesignPeople who love design books by pop culture icons are the luckiest people in the world.

At least they are now, because Barbra Streisand is coming out with My Passion for Design, a tome to be published by Viking on November 16. Maybe this is the diva's big career move for 2010, closely following the 2009 release of "Love is the Answer," the CD of her intimate and successful Village Vanguard concert.

Now there will be another relatively rare public appearance in New York for Barbra Streisand. And it will bring together two of my very favorite things...

What are these two things? Well, Streisand herself, of course. But also the not-dead-yet book industry, since Barbra will be the opening act on May 25 for BookExpo America, the industry's annual gathering. As a child of independent booksellers, back when there were independent booksellers, I used to go to BookExpo. I waited outside hotel ballroom doors to hear and almost be able to see some big names: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton...come to think of it, they were mostly former Democratic Presidents. But I remember Shirley MacLaine being there too at the book convention, back before it got the sexy BookExpo name.

Now it is Streisand's turn. She will be interviewed at the conference, even though she may not have written the book her fans really want. That would be the tell-all autobiography about the musical journey from the Village Vanguard in 1961 to, well, the Village Vanguard in 2009. Or about the men or the stage fright or the Democratic presidents she helped elect or the movies she directed or the Oscars she was denied. Nope. Instead, Barbara Streisand is going all design on us. And maybe she's right. Maybe we will, in the end, learn more about Barbra Streisand by learning about her at-home creative choices.

Certainly she's given design a lot of thought over the years. The Los Angeles Times said that Streisand talked about her "evolving design sensibility" with writer David Keeps back in November. She said her book would focus on the California home where she lives now, a place steeped in the architecture of a century ago.

Over the years, Barbara Streisand has had an array of digs. Over at, they remembered last week that Streisand started out in a small Brooklyn apartment with her mother, brother and grandparents. She's traded up along the way, at one point owning a 25-acre property in Ramirez Canyon Park in Malibu. That included a Craftsman home that now serves as the office for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. And she is counted among the former residents of The Plaza in Manhattan.

It's not just the properties, though, it's all about the design. Like the rest of us, Streisand apparently used to wonder how she could spend $45,000 for a Tiffany lamp. But she managed to get over it. "You look at it," she told the Times, "and that just cannot be duplicated today. God is in the details, to me."

The details of her May 25th appearance will be a little bit of a let down to the general public. As the press statement from Book Expo America states: "It is a business convention, open only to members of the book trade." Here's hoping that includes a few bloggers, too.

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