China is known for its futuristic bookstores and, thanks to Li Xiang of the design firm X+Living, a busy marketplace in the country's Jiangsu province has a new contemporary place to purchase books. Huai’an Zhongshuge's interior is brought to life by enormous three-dimensional structures that recall astronomical instruments.
Rising up, these celestial rings are true centerpieces of the store. The intertwined rings take over the space and are filled with images of books, which appear to defy gravity as they spiral toward the ceiling. “Miniaturized individuals wander within the instruments, tons of scattered books containing infinite worlds, glimpsing the mysteries of the cosmos,” writes the designer. “From antiquity to the present, humanity's exploration of outer space has never ceased—from the armillary sphere to space rockets, from stargazing to traversing the void, with books witnessing it all.”
Made from traditional wood materials, the gargantuan structures provide contrast to the large glass windows that give a view to the bustling city outside. Mirrored ceilings extend the environment, allowing visitors to truly immerse themselves and feel as though they are traveling through infinite space.
The space concept extends into the children's area, where colorful inset bookshelves in the forms of rockets, astronauts, and planets allow the imaginations of young readers to run wild. This inclusive design invites readers of all ages into the fantasy that X+Living has created.
“The architectural space is like an extension of dreamlike reality, a spiritual revelation suspended in midair over the city—amidst the vast and boundless interstellar, individual vexations are as minute as specks of dust. Perhaps, within books, one can truly enter the pure inner cosmic universe.”