Postings around here have been pretty light since summer, but for a good reason. Besides doing a pile of summer reading (thanks everyone for your amazing lists), and bringing home a baby boy (thanks, Jess!), I've been working on a (very small) retail project. Above are a few sneak peeks at what's to come...
often imitated in smaller, stripped down versions that lose the totemic power of the original, opinion ciatti’s massive "ptolomeo" was the tower bookcase that launched so many pretenders. The icon was recently reworked into a rotating version (above) that nicely updates an antique standard.
sick in bed last week, i kept bringing piles of books from the study to my bedside & found myself longing for a library style book truck. looking at these beauties from vernon and gaylord, i realized that their double-sided nature made them good candidates to go between two windows, with one of their narrow sides against the wall, as i mentioned with these shelves.
the white hotel is probably the coolest hotel in belgium. and cool goes clear through their philosophy. not only do they support belgian art & design by filling their hotel with it, they also let you take some of it home. well, buy some of it anyway. what would I want to take home? plenty, starting with the peyman nadirzadeh-designed b-up shelves, made by belgian manufacturer colect. they are slender, well-mannered, and original. wouldn't we all like to be?
second-hand ladderax units continue to pull in big money at auction, so i've often wondered why no-one has re-issued the simple, obviously desirable line. well, it looks like london-based case commissioned matthew hilton to do just that. only they claim it for their own as the casefile system.
the february issue of world of interiors carries a nice little feature on library ladders. among my favorites shown (for those of us without a rail for a rolling ladder) are these three. the putnam no. 70 (top) folds ingeniously from side to side for easy storage in a corner. the folding stepstool (middle) from summerill & bishop is simplicity itself. for a light, modern and affordable ladder, ikea's inreda ladder is tough to beat.
early on in this blog's history, i did a very small post about the dieter rams-designed 606 universal shelving system, but i've long felt the system deserved a bigger posting, so here it is. designed in 1960 with the help of neils vitsoe, professor rams' system is an incredibly beautiful bit of design thinking. when it was introduced it must must have looked shockingly clean and industrial. the main idea wasn't so new; pole and wall mounted shelving systems with optional cabinets and desks abounded in the '40s and '50s (omni, cado, ladderax, etc., etc.), but those systems were mostly made of wood, sometimes with gold accents. they were almost earthy in comparison to the white powder coated steel shelves and starkly silver hardware of the 606. rams' shelving was like a pure idea of storage come to life. it still is. it's difficult to imagine a system more stripped to its essence, but if material innovations make that possible, i feel certain that vitsoe will make it happen. they continue to work directly with dieter rams to make improvements to the system, keeping a design classic from becoming merely design history. in fact, the relationship between vitsoe and the 606 is so close that they seem one and same (the 606 is often referred to as "vitsoe shelving"). so why wont you find the above pictures on vitsoe's website? are they from moss's website (after all, they claim to be the "exclusive distributor of the 606 Universal Shelving System in North America")? no. because vitsoe, it just so happens, isn't the only one to make the 606. italian furniture company de padova also make the system, albeit only in aluminum. that means you can also buy the 606 from a de padova dealer, as well as from vitsoe themselves. no matter who you get it from, if you have the means to acquire a bit of this lovely stuff, you'll hold on to it. 606 shelving rarely pops up in the secondary market; a nice tribute to the design in its own right. (below: images from vitsoe's site)
i have an aversion to corner cabinets. you know, those awkward pentagonal units meant to keep two rectangular cases from running into each other where walls meet. something about putting a rectangular row of rectangular objects into a triangle just bothers me. (i.e. books into a corner cabinet. this aversion also explains why you won't see round shelving on this blog.) i always advise people to run bookcases into each other at corners as shown above. i came across this lovely london home a few days ago on remodelista. this study is simple and beautiful, and the whole house is worth staring at for hours.
while i'm the first to pop my eyes at a wall of books rising to the rafters, i often think about the lonely life of books positioned well above a reachable level. even with a library ladder, it's always the books within arm's reach that will get the most attention. the rest become, for the most part, decoration. so while i'm awed by sky-high libraries, i'm equally enamoured by the intimate scale of interiors by architects like adolf loos and frank lloyd wright. the bibliothèque nationale in paris couples a monumental space with shelving designed according to human proportions (see image above, from "the library at night" by alberto manguel).
an inventive way to get a little extra accessible height to bookshelves is shown in the library of the judd foundation in marfa, texas (shown below). the bottom shelf extends out at double-depth to provide a bench seat for either sitting to read at the case, or for standing on to reach the highest shelves. this is a good solution for those that might be too short for the top few shelves, or those who only need a little extra step to to the top shelf. it's integral, self-explanatory, and effective. a great idea.
the unbelievably prolific designer enzo mari has created some truly beautiful shelving in all sorts of materials, including the metal systems shown above, manufactured by robots in italy. he's also designed bookcases in wood and cardboard. so, what does mari use in his own home? none of the above. he uses the out of production glifo, a super-flexible polypropylene system he designed in 1967 (shown below, from the book "at home with the makers of style").
as the name suggests, the '93-'08 shelving system by horm was originally designed in 1993, and recently updated.
information from horm: “It was 1993 when Solaio was born, a product that to this very day is still a herald of the company style, inspired by a Gardella architecture.
This year we present the third evolution of that system, with a different name, since we felt the need to underline the new aesthetic statement and, above all, to remind us and the world about the fact that this line still belongs to after 15 years”. We were finally able to get rid of the rear elements, to optimize height, to rationalize the various cavities, and to easily expand width, to insert the writing desk and the ultra-slim TV, to have a bar shelf, boxes for secret objects, a tray that seems to float in mid air, to create the corner. A graphic game that becomes a further response to contemporary trends that suggest light, versatile bookshelves, that are simple and straight-forward only at first sight."
ok, it's not books, and ok, i'm not even certain where the shelves are from, and ok, ok, this picture's been floating around the blogosphere for a while now, but i couldn't resist posting german dj ellen allien's great living room full of shelves. sue me.
no question what "influenced" this line of low-cost shelving from habitat. it gives nods to many great designs, including classics by vitsoe, zanotta, and cappellini. habitat have made a nice, clean, minimal system they can call their own. ikea tried a similar imitation that fell short with cheap looking finishes and glass shelves. (personal preference. the dust and fingerprints that show up on glass shelves makes them a high maintenance nightmare. plus, the ikea system has painted wood, satin finish metal and glass all in the same system. i much prefer the all-in-one look of the habitat system.)
available only at heal's in the uk, the stay line of shelving has been "specially designed to lean against a wall and brace under its own weight", though it doesn't seem terribly necessary: the design looks bulky enough to handle two back legs without changing its look substantially. still, i find something quite endearing about the low unit. now, when does heal's open in the us?
anyone who rents a variety of apartments in new york (or many other big cities with cramped spaces) will inevitably be vexed with the problem of narrow spaces between windows or doors. often these types of spaces may represent the only wall space in an apartment, creating a big problem for storage. a long history in furniture has taught me that very few companies make bookcases for very narrow spaces, and those that do seem to discontinue them quickly. so if you are one of those who've been faced with this dilemma, get your hands on a carlson white tower from cb2 before cb2 stops making them. while much of cb2's storage throws me off with features like "champagne stained nickel" and "frosted glass", the carlson comes in a bright white powdercoat finish that i can live with.
i've also seen people place a few ikea lerberg wall shelves (below) sideways, stacked above one another, in a narrow spot, as its spaces then become high enough and deep enough for books (smallish paperbacks, really). shown here in grey, it also comes in a clean, bright green.