In Hangzhou, China, Shanghai-based studio Alberto Caiola has designed a 600-square-meters bookshop — called Harbook — to appeal to the young urban consumer. Comprising a bookstore, a café, and a showroom for Danish contemporary furniture brand Normann Copenhagen, the store blends aspiration with tradition. “For centuries, the city – and its legendary West Lake in particular – has inspired writers, philosophers and poets,” said the design team. “Harbook continues this legacy, expanding the city’s literary culture to include nods to European traditions, yet with a progressive contemporary approach.”
A series of arches designed to evoke classical Italian porticos slice through the space while standalone display stands made up of intersecting geometric shapes are arranged like towering sculptures. Their color palette, as well as surprising mix of materials lend a postmodern edge to offset the store’s more classical elements.
As multipurpose space, Harbook has been designed to host a range of activities. With that in mind, the studio features tiered levels for the purpose of furniture display. Adjacent stairs draw the eye to an attractive raised café area, envisaged as a space for meeting with friends, solitary working, or simply reading.
Overlooking West Lake, it lends a dream-like, playful quality to the overall design: the space is wrapped in dusky pink, rendered edgy by way of metallic panels. Underfoot, traditional, locally sourced Chinese floor bricks anchor this otherwise internationally minded lifestyle destination to its East China locale.
Above, an LED light installation serves dual purposes. Firstly, it makes for a striking centerpiece; and second, it acts as a metaphor for the enlightenment attained through reading. At a point in time when for many, literature is accessed online, Harbook shines a light on the timeless luxury of books.