Offhand Practice designs a second-hand bookshop to imitate a greengrocer

Second-hand books are displayed in supermarket-style boxes at the Deja Vu Recycle Store in Shanghai, which local studio Offhand Practice designed to counter the “shabby” image associated with second-hand stores.

The store, which also offers second-hand clothes, is located on the first and second floors of a three-story building on Shanghai’s bustling Anfu Road.

Deja Vu Recycle store is located on Anfu Road in Shanghai

Inside, Chinese architecture studio Offhand Practice hoped to create a relaxed shopping environment despite the sheer number of products on offer, which includes more than 2,000 garments.

To that end, the studio set out to mimic the experience of going to a greengrocer by displaying clothes and books on shelves typically used to hold fruits and vegetables, while giving all produce prominence. equal regardless of price.

Mosaic hallway inside the store by Offhand Practice
A long hallway in the form of a gallery leads to the staircase on the first floor

“Pick up books like picking up vegetables and fruits feels like enriching the spiritual basket,” explained Offhand Practice.

On the ground floor, the studio recessed the entrance to the building and framed it with cream-colored mosaic tiles to create a small shelter while making the imposing facade more welcoming.

Supermarket style shelves containing books in Deja Vu Recycle Store
Used books are displayed in supermarket style boxes

One of the main challenges for the studio was to encourage passers-by to pass through the ground floor of the building – consisting of a long hallway reserved with space for mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) equipment – and climbing the stairs to reach the Deja Vu Recycle Store.

This was achieved by transforming the hallway into a kind of gallery, showcasing the process of reconditioning second-hand goods.

“Taking advantage of the narrowness, we identified spatial depth through layers of aperture,” the studio explained.

Books are displayed on the first floor of the building and clothes on the second. Both levels have an open plan with walkways defined by shelves and clothes rails.

Mosaic tiles made from scrap rock were used to form decorative paneling in the same creamy beige color as the facade, which channels 1970s Shanghai interiors.

Contrasting green tiles were used to frame the generous window openings revealed during the building’s renovation and to form built-in window seats.

Window framed with mosaics in a Shanghai store by Offhand Practice
Green mosaic tiles were used to frame the building’s windows

Natural pine was used to form the cashier counter, shelving and book cases to add a warm feel to the interior.

Offhand Practice said they designed the store to break with negative preconceptions that thrift stores are “dull, disorganized and piled high with crummy items”.

“Deja Vu Recycle Store shatters the stereotypical image of a thrift store and erases the ritualistic impression of a traditional bookstore full of full-height shelves,” the studio said.

Green mosaics covering the arch of Deja Vu Recycle Store in Shanghai
Tiles have also been used to outline arches and other architectural details

The store was recently shortlisted for Large Retail Interior of the Year at the 2022 Dezeen Awards.

Other projects in the running include a surreal pop-up store designed by Random Studio for fashion brand Jacquemus and a concept store that Schemata Architects created for an outdoor brand in South Korea.

The photograph is by Hu Yanyun.