Calling to mind libraries of yore, Atelier Tao+C’s Common Reader Bookstore serves as a sanctuary for ardent readers in Hangzhou.

Key features

Named after a Virginia Woolf title, Common Reader Bookstore is housed in an L-shaped site split into two rectangular rooms. Atelier Tao+C’s concept for the retail space was to create an environment evocative of old libraries – a place for customers to focus and relax. The designers eliminated unnecessary objects from the literary refuge: bookshelves, display tables, seats and reading lights are the only standing elements. Cladding and furniture in dark cherry wood is paired with accents and fixtures, from verdant velvet curtains and wall paint to glass lighting shades and book stands. A nod to classic library desks, seven large display tables fill the central atrium, which boasts a multi-tone marble floor. After guests make a selection they can make themselves comfortable and pore over novels in the multiple nooks that punctuate the store’s shelving.

Frame’s take

While Common Reader is a relatively small interior at 330-sq-m, the designers nailed the get-lost-among-the-shelves atmosphere that makes traditional libraries so alluring. Their fine balance between the use of wood and the green make for an immersive experience that, while referential, doesn’t feel overly nostalgic. That being said, heightened foot traffic could make the reading spots, positioned just off the main browsing paths, a less-than-ideal place to concentrate. All in all, though, Common Reader seems like exactly the kind of space book lovers would want to end up on Saturday afternoon.