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architectural serpentine shaped bookcase design in bookstore, red bookcase

Until the 1980s, Shenzhen—now a bustling metropolis with a population of more than 12 million—was little more than a small fishing village on the southeastern coast of China.

In 1980, the government designated Shenzhen as a special economic zone, which allowed the city to rapidly develop into an economic powerhouse. For Shanghai-based architecture firm X+Living, Shenzhen’s transformation provided unique inspiration for the design of Shenzhen Zhongshuge, a 14,000-square-foot bookstore with a showstopping shelving system that doubles as a surrealistic art installation.

exterior of architect designed bookstore with red panels and etched glass

people reading in bookstore, architectural spiral bookcase

The bookcase, which runs the length of the store, resembles a spiral staircase turned on its side. “We designed this installation with a clock-dial-shaped cutout to convey the sense that history is being pushed at a rapid pace,” explains X+Living’s founder and chief designer, Li Xiang. “It also pays tribute to the countless pioneers who contributed to the city’s success.”

The massive, twisting shelf—the first thing customers encounter upon entering the shop—is made from plywood finished with a decorative laminate. “The materials are not complicated,” Xiang says. “However, we spent a lot of thought on the craftsmanship to ensure the accuracy and the perfect result of the spiral shape.”

interior designed bookstore, reflective hallway with pendent lights floor lamps mirrors

interior designed modern reading nook teal upholstered walls gold pendant lights bench seating black tables lighted bookcases

designer kids room reading area bookstore pastel colors mirror ceiling train blush pink mushroom lamp

Inspired by the work of artist Anish Kapoor, Xiang hoped to “create a sense of atmosphere and spirituality” in the design. Reflective black floor tiles and soft lighting create an atmosphere of calm, while clusters of chairs provide intimate seating areas. Elsewhere in the shop, rooms full of floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with books are a bibliophile’s dream, and a pastel-colored children’s area has a whimsical toy train set and a large Ferris-wheel-shaped bookshelf.

Photographs by SFAP

As appeared in GRAY magazine issue No. 62


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