Is this the craziest bookstore in the world?
The defining feature in the newly opened Zhongshuge bookstore in the city of Shenzhen, China, is a huge spiral staircase that wraps around the store — but customers can’t climb it. The breathtaking winding staircase – which even has an ornate railing – actually serves as a fantastic bookshelf.
Li Xiang of the Shanghai-based X+Living studios is behind the design of both the store and the bookshelf, which doubles as ‘a huge artistic installation’.
The defining feature in the recently opened Zhongshuge Bookstore in Shenzhen City, China, is a huge spiral staircase that revolves around the store
The whimsical staircase “serves as a functional bookshelf as well as a huge artistic installation,” according to the designer
The bookshop, which opened this fall, is divided into four separate areas: a ‘concept’ room, a ‘forum’ room, a children’s reading room and a meeting room.
According to a statement from the studio, the stair bookshelf runs “in a curving path through the entire concept area” and connects to the entrance and exit, with bookworms able to roam the reels, picking up novels along the way.
“The designers have taken the symbolism of the ladder of wisdom and integrated the elegant and dignified bookshelves in the forum area into a towering ladder, creating a sacred temple of knowledge,” the statement explains, adding that the structure is intended to an ‘intimate reading experience’.
Shoppers can wander the scrolls of the staircase – which even has a handrail – and check out the books for sale
The structure, which is based on the ‘symbolism of the ladder of wisdom’, aims to create an ‘intimate reading experience’ for book lovers
Elsewhere in the store, the children’s reading corner is a riot of pastels and cartoonish shapes that aims to evoke “colorful and happy memories.”
A Ferris wheel and castle are built into the wall in even more whimsical bookshelves, made with ‘simple lines and pictures’ and ‘childish brushstrokes’.
The table in the center of the space is designed to resemble an amusement park carousel, ‘inviting children to make friends with books’.
The brightly colored reading corner for children, pictured, aims to evoke ‘colorful and happy memories’
There are also ‘floating tables’ with legs that blend into the black tile floor to create a ‘surreal atmosphere’.
Describing the story behind the design, Li Xiang says: ‘While researching the cultural background of this city, I realized that I could design a space that could become a symbol of Shenzhen itself as an inclusive and vibrant city of migrants, tribute to all those who struggled to make history in this city.
‘That’s how this retail space was created, which seems to have grown out of a gigantic art installation.’
X+Living designed the Zhongshuge store in Chongqing City (pictured) and implemented huge mirrors and symmetrical stairs in the design
Above is the amazing Zhongshuge Lafayette Store in Beijing. Zhongshuge is a chain of bookstores across China, founded by book publisher Jin Hao
Pictured is the Zhongshuge store in Ningbo city. Since 2010, X+Living studios has designed more than 20 properties of the bookstore chain
The Dujiangyan Zhongshuge, pictured, is yet another example of the work of X+Living studios – the company creates spaces with spectacular, awe-inspiring interiors
Zhongshuge Bookstores are a chain of bookstores across China, founded by book publisher Jin Hao. Since 2010, X+Living studios has designed more than 20 properties of the chain and created spaces with spectacular, awe-inspiring interiors.
In 2016, it unveiled the Zhongshuge Bookstore in Hangzhou, which features mirrored ceilings and an “enchanted forest” children’s area with log shelves and huge mushroom statues.
Three years later, in 2019, the studio turned its hand to the Zhongshuge store in Chongqing City, using huge mirrors and symmetrical stairs to create an enchanting design.
It has also designed stores in Ningbo, Beijing, Guiyang, Chengdu and Shanghai.