Architects and designers across the globe have created bookstores with striking interiors that offer more than just a place to buy things.
From a hall of zigzagged staircases in China to a yellow-hued grotto in east London, here are 10 bookshop interiors that provide immersive and unusual browsing experiences.
This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen’s archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks featuring brutalist interiors, light-filled atriums and walk-in wardrobes.
Created to counter the “shabby” image commonly associated with second-hand retailers, Deja Vu Recycle Store features a light interior defined by stone off-cut mosaic tiles and natural pine.
“[The project] breaks the stereotypical image of a second-hand store and erases the ritualistic impression of a traditional bookstore full of full-height bookshelves,” said Offhand Practice.
Natural oak panels were used to create towering display walls for books. Various publications are also presented on stone plinths that echo a looming, organically shaped stone sculpture by local artist Josefine Winding.
A maze of intricate staircases, amplified by a mirrored ceiling, forms a dramatic backdrop for this bookshop in Chongqing by Shanghai-based studio X+Living.
Thanks to their wide treads, the stairs double as reading nooks for customers, while the overall stepped outline created in the central space intends to reference Chongqing’s urban skyline.
Another store interior that takes cues from its setting, this Trieste bookshop features boxy shelving that was informed by the diamond brick patterns of the nearby Trieste National Hall.
Slovenian studio SoNo Arhitekti repeated this motif on the shop’s two sofas, which have grid-patterned upholstery. It also reserved space for chunky display podiums and a children’s reading corner.
Georgian designer Lado Lomitashvili created the store, which is housed inside a 1930s building, to support the “cultural development” of the country’s capital city.
Hong Kong-based firm Pulse On was informed by the strings of musical instruments when designing the delicate interior of this Shanghai bookshop, which is also the lobby of a cinema.
Thin metal slats extend vertically from floor to ceiling to create bookshelves, while integrated lighting bathes various seating areas in a soft glow.
“We wanted to create a zen resting space for the guests through the mix of ‘strings’ and ‘books’,” explained the designers. “All of this boils down to simplicity and purity of lines – no highly-contrasting colours are used.”
Handmade shelves were crafted in irregular shapes by artists from the Slade School of Fine Art using unfinished recycled wood. They house the store’s many books, which are arranged thematically rather than categorised traditionally, in order to encourage “chance encounters while browsing”.
Five different colours delineate the zones inside this Huangyan bookstore, which includes reproductions of rare books exhibited in a tall, wood-panelled stairwell.
Duoyun Bookstore was designed by Wutopia Lab and Office ZHU to feature layers of perforated metal on its facade – a move that saw two disused buildings renovated to create the shop.
Large rectilinear windows are positioned at the edge of the lake to offer views of the surrounding scenery, while the glass extends beneath the waterline to create a peaceful and immersive setting for reading.
A vast double-height room is defined by wooden bleachers that span the 21-metre width of the space, where customers are invited to stay and read or meet up even after they have bought their books.
This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen’s archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks featuring colourful living rooms, decorative ceilings and deliberately unfinished interiors.