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