Book City: Retail Space for Reading Mimics the Look of Urban Spaces

The appearance of the city outside – complete with crosswalks and grids resembling aerial views of urban blocks – acts as a transition space between the entrance of a bookstore and the quiet, private spaces beyond. This space by XL-muse, located on the fourth floor of the Réel Mall in Shanghai, references the orderly aspects of urban aesthetics, carrying them from the sunny, exposed main room into the darkened alleys full of floor-to-ceiling shelves.

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Street lights gently illuminate the rows of books in these tranquil hallways, organized like pedestrian promenades complete with central park benches and displays. Mirrors are employed to visually double the height of the shelves, making them feel as if they continue up into the sky and stretch far deeper into the building than they really do. Paths direct you from one ‘house’ of books to the next as you explore the shop.

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In these atmospherically-lit areas bursting with dark-stained wood, shoppers feel like they’re navigating the city late at night, when the traffic has died down and the streets are eerily silent. The crosswalks continue into the small cafe, stepping right up onto the ceiling and then back out into the showroom, where white pegs inserted into the concrete walls can be pulled or pushed to create display niches.