With the advent of tablets, phones and e-readers, could the book-lined home library go the way of the formal dining room?
Not a chance, designers and retailers say.
Digital and print books can co-exist, says House Beautiful’s editor in chief Newell Turner.
“When there’s an endless river of (digital) content, the words, text and images we choose to print and bind into a physical book will make (it) even more special,” she says.
And books, in their variety of shapes and sizes, can be art in their own right, she says. Certainly, many people display richly illustrated coffee table books. And at Hearst’s October 2013 Designer Visions show house in New York, Jamie Drake took the books-as-art notion literally: For his House Beautiful apartment, he turned large books spine sides in and stacked them geometrically in wall recesses to flank a fireplace as sculptural art.
“Books are precious and beautiful, both their contents and materials. I was inspired to provoke thoughts, placing the bulk of the spines away from the viewer, thus highlighting the thousands of paper pages and creating a sense of desire to discover what lies within,” he says.
For Elle Decor at the show house, Alessandra Branca created a warm, intimate library with just two bookshelves and a chrome easel for a flat-screen television. A large Candida Hofer photograph of Dublin’s Trinity College Library provided a trompe l’oeil effect, as if the library extended into the image. Branca imagined the space, which included walls covered in chocolatey faux bois (wood-grain appearance) sateen and a plump sofa blanketed in tartan, as a room where you could store favorite vintage books but also use a digital reader.
“Nothing can replace the wonderful feel of sitting curled up with a book, or the happenstance of discovering a book on the shelf that you haven’t seen for a while, particularly books on art, architecture or design,” she say. “I think we’ll always love the physical aspect of a book in hand, but I’ve found I buy more and more of my new fiction online.”