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Rainbows, crystals, fireflies, those exhibitionists of the natural world, are exuberantly reimagined at bookstore chain Zhongshuge’s latest location, on the third story of a shiny office tower. From the street, the store first appears through the windows as a glimpse of soft rainbow colors. On closer inspection, the rainbow reveals itself to be a canopy constructed from layers of perforated aluminum powder-coated in gradated colors—the interplay between nature and artifice is central to the vision of Wutopia Lab principal Yu Ting. “We pushed that aesthetic to the extreme by choosing highly artificial materials as a contrast to what they symbolize,” Yu explains.
This canopy defines the area devoted to art and design books. The largest of the themed sections, Yu named it the Xanadu of Rainbows. Color disappears in his Sanctuary of Crystal, where clear acrylic shelving displays the chain’s recommended titles. In a dark corridor, the Cave of Fireflies, fiber-optic cables represent bioluminescence while illuminating best-sellers.
The storytelling enchantment doesn’t come at the expense of functionality, however. Encouraging customers to spend time sitting on the stepped platforms and other perches throughout the 15,000 square feet effectively increases “dwell time,” as they say in retail circles. A well-known Western strategy, it’s now pervasive in China.