'Bookshelf' by Alex Johnson holds volumes of fun design
Stacked cinder blocks and boards work just as well as most, but they’re nowhere near as fun — or as optimistic in this e-book world — as the swirling, angled, wacky shelves in Alex Johnson’s new book. “Bookshelf” (Thames & Hudson, $24.95) has more than 300 color photos of minimalist, ladder-shaped shelves, jumbled boxes, swirling towers and the occasional farm animal. (That's Estante Vaco, above, by Brazilian designer Dennys Tormen). One disorienting design built into a staircase holds 2,000 books, but many others were created without much apparent thought to storing more than a few volumes.
“It’s partly that designers like taking something small and basic and playing with it, and there’s nothing much more basic than a bookcase,” Johnson said from his home in Britain, where his three children, ages 3, 9 and 11, are all big readers.
“The truth for many readers is that their bookshelves are nearly as important to them as their books,” he said, adding that he remembers the size and shape and smell of his childhood bookcases with as much fondness as the books in them.
Nobody & Co. designer Alisee Matta, whose Bibliochaise is included in the book, said life in a small, book-filled apartment inspired her to create a leather armchair that envelopes the sitter with 16 feet of shelf space. “Sitting and living in the middle of your favorite books is a very strong feeling,” she says in “Bookshelf.”
The wit and delight that the designers seem to have taken in making these bookshelves collides head-on with the rise in reading on hand-held devices. That, Johnson said, could make bookcases just another piece of decoration. But, he added, that’s not likely for a long time.
— Mary MacVean
Puckman by Studio Ginepro
A design from the Thai studio Osisu
The Mexican firm Pirwi designed Quetza as an abstraction of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec deity who took the form of a serpent.
Metamorphosis by Sebastian Errazuriz is a one-off handcarved bookcase.
Barok and Big Barok by the French design firm Presse Citron are lacquered steel shelves that create the illusion of books floating inside picture frames.
Photos: Thames & Hudson