Beijing Zhongshuge Lafayette Store by X+Living: 2020 Best of Year Winner for Retail

Photography by Wu Gingshan.

Great novels immerse readers in another world. But it’s rare for a bookstore to be similarly transporting. That is, unless it’s designed by founder and creative director Li Xiang, who has made a specialty of surrealistic shelves. Take this 12,000-square-foot project, one of 17 her firm X+Living has conceived for the Chinese chain Zhongshuge, inside a Galeries Lafayette department store. Riffing on classical Chinese gardens, it reveals itself gradually, leading browsers from one carefully composed scene to the next. A series of circular portals, each lined with LED strips and book-patterned wallpaper and framing views of one another, reference traditional moon gates. A mirrored ceiling and glossy walnut flooring heighten the illusory perspectives. At the back of the store, the scenery changes, opening into a bright events space modeled after a bamboo forest. Willowy wood branches form a scrim around book displays; posters and paperbacks hang from thin horizontal bars between them. But the café returns visitors to solid ground: Its custom benches and stools in carved MDF are exactly what they appear to be.

Photography by Wu Gingshan.
Photography by Wu Gingshan.
Photography by Wu Gingshan.
Photography by Wu Gingshan.
Photography by Wu Gingshan.

Project team: Li Xiang; Ren Lijiao; Wu Feng. 

> See the full list of winners and honorees from Best of Year 2020

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