China’s XL-Muse reinvents the bookstore

Shanghai studio XL-Muse has come up with creative designs for two new stores for book retailer Zhongshuge.

Shelving reaches to the ceiling in the corridor of the Yangzhou Zhongshuge bookshop and is reflected by the floor below, emulating the effect of water. The designers took inspiration from the store’s waterside location in Zhen Yuan, as well as the area’s arched bridges, reports Dezeen.

Zhongshuge book store Yangzhou 3

“In the past, guided by water, many literati and poets visited and gathered here,” says XL-Muse. “The bridges were once the guiding factor of culture and commerce, and they represent the bookstore being the bond between humans and books.”

Zhongshuge book store Yangzhou 5

The Yangzhou store is the latest interior XL-Muse has created for Zhongshuge. The studio previously created an oval reading room with stepped shelving for a branch that opened in Hangzhou in April. Black mirrored flooring and arched shelves create a tunnel of books. The Zhongshuge-Hangzhou bookshop also has mirrored ceilings and wraparound bookshelves, and a display room with columns shaped like tree trunks.

Zhongshuge book store Yangzhou 1

At the Yangzhou store, the concave shelving does not meet at the top, but is separated by a gap shaped like a lightning bolt across the middle of the ceiling. Reflected on the mirrored flooring, this gap is meant to act as a river, leading customers forward into the store.

Zhongshuge book store Yangzhou 7

The 1000 sqm space includes a reading room and a village-themed children’s area. The main reading room features curvaceous shapes in the form of sculptural, white pillars that curve inward from the ceiling.

Zhongshuge book store Yangzhou 2


Zhongshuge book store Yangzhou

Shelving is a combination of traditional vertical styles and black metal stands arranged on a gentle slope that complements the curves of the pillars.

Zhongshuge book store Yangzhou 6

Meanwhile, the children’s picture book pavilion features shelves shaped like houses, towers, clouds and a hot-air balloon. The wooden shelving is painted in a spectrum of bright colours, and the ceiling lights are arranged to suggest a starry sky.

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