Incredible Optical Illusion Bookstore Looks Like a Real-Life M.C. Escher Painting

Zhongshuge Bookstore by X-Living

Shanghai-based architectural design firm X+Living has once again made waves with a stunning bookstore interior. By relying on optical illusions, they've transformed the Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing into a mind-bending environment straight from the movie Inception. Using mirrors and staircases, the “ladder hall” is a reflective maze that cleverly houses bookcases in the steps. As visitors move about the space, they are brought into a surreal, never-ending adventure created by the optical illusion.

Visitors are immediately drawn to the repeating shapes of the staircases, with the warm wood tones creating a classic, cozy feel. To create continuity and flow, X+Living maintained an open concept in the hall through the use of glass railings.  The books themselves provide punches of color, adding a touch of random chaos to the otherwise orderly environment.

The earth tones carry into the lobby, where conical shaped bookshelves appear to float within the space thanks to cleverly placed mirrors. These areas contrast with the colorful whimsy of the children's reading area. Swathed in pink carpet, mirrors are once again used to give the illusion of an alternate universe mirroring the actual space. The beautiful built-in shelving adds interest to the space, as the shapes of each shelf transforms it into a sculptural art piece. X+Living has managed to maintain the sophisticated fantasy of the rest of the bookstore while injecting the room with kid-friendly whimsy.

It should come as no surprise that the Zhongshuge Bookstore has been named one of the most beautiful in the world. Through clever interior design, it's an inviting and intriguing space to get lost in, wandering and discovering new literary masterpieces.

This bookstore in China uses clever design to create an optical illusion of never-ending space that is the stuff of fantasies.

Contemporary Bookstore Interior Contemporary Bookstore Zhongshuge Bookstore by X-Living Contemporary Bookstore

Bookshelves are built into the stairs and glass railings allow for a seamless, open environment.

Inception Looking Bookstore Contemporary Bookstore Contemporary Bookstore Interior Incredible Bookstore in China Inception Looking Bookstore Zhongshuge Bookstore by X-Living

The lobby is punctuated by cone-shaped bookshelves that appear to float.

Contemporary Bookstore Zhongshuge Bookstore by X-Living

Even the children's reading room uses mirrors to create a surreal space tinged with whimsy.

Contemporary Interior of Children's Bookstore Children's Bookstore Interior Zhongshuge Bookstore by X-Living

It's no wonder that the Zhongshuge Bookstore has been named one of the world's most beautiful bookstores.

Inception Looking Bookstore Inception Looking Bookstore Zhongshuge Bookstore by X-Living Zhongshuge Bookstore by X-Living

X+Living: Website
h/t: [DesignTAXI, sohu]

All images via X+Living.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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