Have books gone the way of the VCR and LP’s? Is the arrival of tablets and e-readers leading to the extinction of the good old fashioned printed book, made of pieces of paper bound together with stitching and glue? I must admit I’m beginning to feel it is inevitable that at some point I will start reading novels on my ipad, and succumb to the trend. It’s more “green” – right?
The next question is how does this affect the world of interior design? Without books do we need bookcases? Bookcases lining the walls of a library room or study goes back centuries. Most traditional homes feature built-in bookcases somewhere in the house.
Photo of Minneapolis Living Room
Photo of Minneapolis Bedroom
Granted, mixing interesting objects with books on those shelves has been a part of interior design for a long time, but are we now at the point when even the books themselves are objects and not necessarily there to read? It also seems to me that bookcases made to actually hold books are disappearing and being replaced by étagères. With an étagère the books are meant to be stacked on their sides, or used as a platform for other objects. A classic example of an étagère is the Richard Shapiro one shown here.
Photo of Modern Gilded Iron Étagére
Because books add an element of depth and dimension to a room, they can still be used as a design element. It is possible to buy books “by the yard” or “by the foot” if you don’t have any. There is a company in California, Book Décor, that imports books from Europe to sell to interior designers and directly to homeowners. Using books as decorative objects, or really like art, requires that they be beautiful – cloth, or preferably leather, bound and never with their gaudy paper jackets.
Photo of Designer Mix Book Décor
I think one does have to say that even though you may read a novel on your tablet, coffee table books, like those for design or art, are best experienced as a beautiful printed and bound book. Speaking of which, you might want to check out “Brilliant: White in Design” by Linda O’Keeffe which features a room by Andrew Flesher Interiors.
Of late I have been noticing artists and designers who are taking up those discarded books and doing some really interesting things with them. If you go to a restaurant in the TriBeCa neighborhood of NYC called Brushstroke, you will notice that the walls in the bar lounge area are comprised of stacks of paperback books coated with shellack.
Photo of Brushstroke Walls
Or check out the website for Tracy Kendall, a British wallpaper designer, who does a series of digitally printed wallpapers with images of books, books on shelves and typeface as a collage. Also check out her interesting 3-dimensional wallpapers.
Photo of Tracy Kendall Books
Photo of Elle Décor Japan Dec 2006
Photo of Tracy Kendall White Room with Text
Artist, Janet Jones, in San Francisco makes collages using pages from books mixed with other found papers and materials.
Photo of Janet Jones Mirage Pieces
And the one that I really think is great is Jessica Drenk, who soaks books in water, twists them into different shapes, coats them with wax, and then carves them – truly beautiful! Check out her other sculptures as well. She can make the most mundane object a work of art.
Photo of Jessica Drenk Sculpture, Books, Pages, Wax
Photo of Jessica Drenk Sculpture, Books, Wax, Sticks
Photo of Jessica Drenk Carving Books, Sculpture, Books, Wax, Sticks