- Wuguan Books, an unusual bookstore by Chu Chih-kang Space Design
How many of you read in bed by the light of your bedside lamp before you fall asleep, often with the book still in your hands? A moment all to ourselves, when we take time out and look inwards after a busy day punctuated by the eternal presence of the web.
If you identify with this statement then there is a perfect place where you can experience that exact same thing. No flashing neon signs, no shop window connecting with the surroundings: Wuguan Books, the bookstore designed by Chu Chih-kang Space Design in the large port of Kaohsiung City on Taiwan's southern coast attracts customers and inquisitive passers-by thanks to its tiny, vintage-style sign on the outside wall, as well as by word of mouth. A real book cave that you can only get into by pulling aside a heavy curtain for an almost cathartic passage from the light of day into a place shrouded in darkness.
With the book covers on nearly 300 bookshelves facing outwards, these books tell their own story. They cover a huge range of genres, including psychology and art, and are categorised according to the colour of their cover. These stand out through the careful lighting design that illuminates each book separately, making them look as if they are floating on air.
Accomplished with the aid of dark wooden furniture, carpets on the floors that absorb echoes and the sound of footsteps, inside the store, there is a very special atmosphere that bears no resemblance to the new generation futuristic bookstores where users seem to be merely extras in front of stage sets made of books. At Wuguan Books, where all the light is concentrated on books and other objects, visitors are blissfully unaware of other people around them in the store. With fewer person-to-person interferences, visitors can select the book they want to read without worrying about whether somebody is watching them, also considering the fact that some of the books address adult themes that could make people reluctant to pick them up and read in a brightly lit bookstore.
The team from Chu Chih-kang Space Design has crafted an environment with a reassuring darkness where the content is important, not the interior design or the architectural container. All these books are just waiting for people to pick them up and flip through them, to tickle our fancy to the point where we decide to take them out of the intimacy of the bookstore and bring them into the intimacy of our bedroom.
Designed by: Chu Chih-kang Space Design (www.kang.com.tw)
Designer: Chu Chih-kang
Design assistant: Lin Tan-hua
Location: Dayi Warehouse Cluster, Pier-2 Art Center, Kaohsiung City (C7-6 Warehouse, 2-1 Dayi Street, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City)
Area: 185 sq meter
Owner: Wuguan Books