New Designs Help Bookcases Hold Their Place in Home Decor

E-books may be growing in popularity, and the hardcover variety may not populate as many homes as they once did, but the need for a library or two hasn’t diminished. In fact, on retail sites, it’s still its own category, sometimes paired with storage and shelving, and the old-fashioned freestanding bookcase has been reinvented.

It’s still recognizable, but tweaks have given it a range of styles and looks, and increased modularity has created options – for those lucky enough to have plenty of space or those with serious storage issues. storage. And more attention is paid to its expanded function: as a room divider, a place for art and collectibles, and boxes or baskets to clutter up the corral – or even stand alone as a decorative tour de force.

The changes translate into both very large formats — single pieces or assembled modules — or more compact and slender units designed for small-scale living. A dominant change has been towards more open shelving, often resembling a bookshelf. At EuroCucina, which was part of the huge Salone del Mobile trade show in Milan last spring, there was an abundance of these shelving systems that fit perfectly into living spaces, stylishly defining kitchens and the functions inside.

What is most striking in these components is the mix of materials – metal or stones and porcelains with wood. Often the shelves are coordinated with the cabinets. At Veneta Cucine, for example, the look of the black iron structure created a graphic rhythm throughout the space, with high open shelves lined with shelves in weathered sabbia wood in the foreground, and closed shelves in medium height framed in brushed stainless steel, with the rich grain of wood as a backdrop, rising just high enough to hide the work island behind it. The rich columned cabinets at the rear, finished in a metallic liquid mercury look, were also framed in stainless steel, a beautiful blend of design.

This emphasis on modern design has affected shelving throughout the home.

– Riffs on the familiar bookcase and shelf mix materials – sometimes more than two – introducing color and varying the heights and widths of the dividers.

— Asymmetry and cantilever unexpectedly disturb the usual formula.

— The undulation in the format or form itself adds a dynamic that commands the eye.

— Playing with positive and negative spaces provides both closed and open options, sometimes with sliding panels that can change the look.

— Patterned accents, such as opaque shades that give a decorative element that stands out, even when there is nothing in the lockers.

— Leaning ladder styles suggest a casual, casual look.

— Hanging shelves have also transformed: while floating shelves have been an option for some time, the shelves themselves are now housed in frames that can emphasize the form.

Color alone can be key, as anyone who has ever painted a built-in bookcase a bold color like apple green or cobalt blue will attest. Manufacturers are offering more and more choices. A new series at Ligne Roset called Book and Look has multiple configurations, available in fashion-forward colors like mustard and khaki, with a grouping option for pop. Harto’s Edgar shelving unit is actually a hybrid piece of furniture: an open console on legs, with a column rising from the right side, and bold blue panels to the left and base of the column.

One of the brightest introductions of the past year is Marcel Wanders’ Dojo cabinet, part of his Globe Trotters collection for Roche Bobois. The black frame is dressed in stunning highly lacquered blue sliding panels, inspired by the sliding doors of Japanese architecture, as well as a round gold mirror at the top, a geometric triumph.

Metals range from raw black iron to warm metals, like the sleek brass-finished shelving unit from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop lifestyle collection for CB2.

The pattern was also used in new ways. Etro Home’s open bookcase, its warm brass frame, is decorated with panels that showcase some of the Italian fabric brand’s signature prints – paisleys, stripes, as well as solids, plus a rattan weave that let the light in.

Similarly, Roberto Cavalli Home has brought out some of the palm tree prints that give the alternating panels a tropical vibe, as well as sophisticated embroidered leather panels that work particularly well when modules combine medium, narrow and skinny widths. Just as the pattern changes the face of the bookcase, so does the shape. It can be sculptural, as in a red plastic spiral that London designer Ron Arad created for Kartell a few years ago. Or it can be architectural, as in a simple cross-brace frame at the Italian brand De Padova. It creates a solid backdrop for furnishing, height, and sturdiness without encroaching on even large-scale sofas or sectionals.

A dimensional piece like the all-new Hobart from Portuguese brand Green Apple is striking and always familiar, as the elements break down into cubes arranged on their sides to create a honeycomb pattern. And Wewood turns the bookcase at a seemingly precarious angle – an open form interspersed with equal height, askew and visually unnerving.

Even the more conventional Everywhere by Christian Werner for Ligne Roset has an element of surprise: annexed to its open shelf is a floating asymmetrical closed door that shifts the boundaries of the room. This brand is particularly adept at meeting multiple storage needs by combining vertical elements, such as bookcases, with low consoles or open sideboards to meet entertainment and TV storage needs, with attractive combinations such as stoneware black marble effect porcelain, black stained oak veneer. and black perforated steel rear panels (in Clyde), with occasional contrasting brass elements.

At the other end of the spectrum is the new minimalist Jack bookcase by London-Cypriot designer Michael Anastassiades for B and B Italia. Its bare essential double support posts pierce shelves, extend to the ceiling and taper at the ends into single rods.

For those who don’t want to commit floor space, the number of stylish wall shelves has increased. French brand Harto has channeled a bit of mid-century with a touch of oriental flair in the quirky look of the post brackets, most striking in black with gold accents (also in natural), which create an eye-catching composition, before even if decorative pieces are added. .

A very different look at Anthropologie combines Lucite with brass supports (which read as accents) in a compelling arch, with sheer shelving. This retailer also offers a piece reminiscent of trinkets, this one in an exaggerated oval.

Whatever you call them, these new storage solutions are useful in almost any room of the house.

— Place a slender shelf as a focal point at the end of a fireplace.

— Divide the space with a larger room, perfectly suited for loft-style living.

— Place open shelves in front of a window with an unattractive view.

— Add a sculptural or architectural bookcase to the floor and add visual verve.

Even with brilliant solutions to contain, your job is not done. Now it’s up to you to act as curator, editing your own collections so they look fabulous on your new shelves.