With the spread of portable electronic media, readers have been provided with a different way of interacting with their personal libraries. More than ever before, it has become a positive choice to own a physical copy of any book when a digital version is available at the click of a button. As the relationship between book and reader has changed, so too has the role of the bookcase. More than just a piece of furniture, a bookcase is a unique combination of form and function; it is a metaphor for the reader’s individuality. All the books and baubles on a reader’s bookshelf reflect their interests and quirks; they are little pieces that are put on display – a window into the reader’s personality.
It should be no surprise, then, that enterprising artists and architects have devoted time and effort (not to mention creative brainpower) towards the creation of mould-breaking bookcases designed to capture the imagination. These unique designs are as inspired as the graphic novels, timeless classics, and occasional trashy romance they’re meant to display. So, put away your Allen key, we’re leaving IKEA and taking a walk on the wild side; it’s time to have a look at the Most Creative Bookshelf Designs Ever.
The inspiration behind this first design should be obvious to most people old enough to buy their own furniture, although undoubtedly most appreciated by a demographic of vintage gamers. Pacman can now be employed as storage for more than just infinite amounts of white pellets; this cool, retro-themed bookshelf provides a stylish way to display books, classic gaming consoles, or modern electronics in a clear and open space. Made out of varnished wood and wall-mounted, this design would flatter someone with extra wall-space. Although it is available in other colours, surely Pacman doesn’t need a makeover after all these years?
This is not a design likely to be found at a local furniture store; in fact, this was a private commission from Raw Edges Design Studio back in 2010. These shelves are eccentric and extremely stylish; the concept of drawers disappearing into floor evoking an instant reaction of “How cool is that!?”. This design is conceived of as a showpiece first and foremost, taking away from any practical usage as a storage unit. However, whether you imagine drawers of knowledge descending into the depths, or Fantasia-esque living furniture popping up and down at will, these talking pieces definitely exude character and class.
The Anita collection by artist Ricard Mollon is the pinnacle of self-expression. In this version, the owner clearly felt the word LOVE was appropriate (you can customize it to your own taste), and we can only assume this is in reference to their love of haphazard book stacking. This design is a very chic concept, appropriate for showpiece reads and conversation pieces and you can customize the shape according to the layout of the room. That being said, if useful shelving is what you’re after I’d suggest staying away from words with too many Vs.
A giant cylinder is definitely not most people’s default idea of a traditional bookshelf, especially one so disturbingly reminiscent of a hamster wheel. Eye-catching, to say the least, this circular unit definitely makes its presence felt in any room, providing the idea of an unbroken circle of knowledge (or 360 degrees of Garfield comics, if that’s your style). Again, there is the slight issue of constraint; it would be hard to accommodate anything other than books, or even books too variant in size, but the bookcase itself is so awesome that it doesn’t matter. Still, one can’t help but feel it would be perfect if the next design were installed right in the middle…
Seating and storage in one piece of furniture, The Book Seat is both functional and convenient. Books? Check. Magazines? Check. But why stop there? Snacks, TV remotes, series 1-4 of Breaking Bad – this design is a one-stop shop for relaxation. By the looks of it, it would probably help your posture, too.
The Tetris bookshelf is a modern, conceptual design created by Greek artist and architect Eleftherios Ambatzis. Another piece that says as much about the owner as the books it contains, the design is very sharp and was not created with spatial conservation in mind. This is not somewhere to put your old copies of TV Guide, nor the little gift shop souvenir your aunt brought you back from her last vacation; only cool things are allowed here, like a leather-bound edition of Moby Dick and a signed copy of Sean Connery’s autobiography.
This sleek, simple design is both a practical and eye-catching piece of shelving. With a basic, minimalist structure, it nonetheless maximizes the amount of storage space available by ingeniously utilizing the most underrated facet of a room – the corner. One could conceivably sit any size book or trinket on one of the shelves, and despite its subtle design, it somehow manages to draw the eye.
Another piece with a very sleek feel to it, the Console Bookshelf is a self-contained seating and shelving unit. The storage aspect is well-covered, neither books nor any other item worth displaying would be really out of place, but the real talking point is the built-in lounging space. The concept is familiar, but the design is modern and eccentric, and it would be hard to imagine this piece of furniture sitting comfortably in just any living room.
This wall-mounted bookshelf pays homage the classic to read list, and manages to appear stylish while still giving a homey vibe. It’s probably not big enough to store anyone’s entire library; this piece is definitely a showcase for all the classy foreign authors and trending titles, just so guests can see how stimulatingly well-read you are. It definitely ticks off the functionality criteria, though, as now instead of scribbling down to reads on a post-it note and sticking it on the fridge, you can tuck the troublesome tomes right on the wall. I’m sure they won’t sit there for too long, right?
By far the most practical design on the list, the Piegato One is also probably one of the more conservative. Who needs garish aesthetics when maximizing wall-space is just so handy? While still charmingly colourful, the main design feature of the Piegato One is the available option of folding it back against the wall when not in use. It’s not bulky or overly difficult to install, which means the reader can easily set up a layering effect, as pictured above.
A case with a message, the ABC Book Shelf is another customizable series, this time by Italian design company Arredamenti Saporiti. Each letter is a removable cube so you can arrange your bookcase to your own taste, using any combination of number or letter. Keeping with the theme of expressive bookcases, it seems a charming idea to have your own personal message staring down at you every time you start or finish a book.
Anyone really wishing to look deeply into the design of this movable shelf might possibly describe it as a clever metaphor for portable electronic devices and the handheld music and literature libraries available to the modern user. The Quitante is a compartmental bookshelf, a simplistic design witch an attached leash and set on wheels. Finished your book, but too comfortable to get up and walk to your bookshelf in the next room? Problem solved.
If you’re looking for a conversation piece, I really don’t think any bookcase can match a giant coloured cow. These cattle-themed Vaco bookshelves really capture the idea of ‘displaying one’s individuality.’ Although they are spatially impractical, and risk drawing the attention even more than what they contain, I’m sure there are reading rooms or libraries in which these accessories would be completely at home. Somewhere.
One of the most stylish of the wall-mounted bookcases, the SUM Shelves feature a number of asymmetrical boxes designed to hold all manner of books at outrageous angles. Each box stands self-contained and separate, commanding its own focus, while still remaining a tangible part of the whole. All in all, the design gives an impression of controlled chaos, a dichotomy of disordered order. Or, you know… it just looks cool.
Aesthetically appealing (and my personal favourite), the beautiful Tree design is a stylish way of storing and displaying your collection. Very classy, it is spatially easy to accommodate, and can complement most interior design palettes. While perhaps lacking in the ordered aspect of book storage, someone looking for a more artsy and quirky design would definitely appreciate this model.
Talk about casual, this last creative design is called the Bookwave, and it is the least traditional of all the bookcase designs. Slightly restrictive in terms of what can be put in, the major positive factor is that it is extremely spatially conservative. The only trouble is it seems difficult to identify the titles without removing them. Still, for someone with a laid-back ambience, this could be just the perfect complement.
Whether you’re looking for something sleek and modern, or something artsy and eccentric, the concept of the bookcase has evolved from the traditional horizontally shelved, rectangular, lacquered oak monstrosity that was owned by your grandma and is an absolute nightmare to move up and down stairs. It is only fitting that the effort one puts into creating a truly individual home should be extended to such an important part of what actually makes it a home. If you can create an environment that really inspires the imagination, what could be a more appropriate place to house the fruits of that creativity?