Why bookstores today depend on interiors with strong visual identity

Xi’an, China – Designers are reframing bookstores and libraries as luxury retail spaces that far surpass ‘bookish’ aesthetics. As modern communication evolves with modern technologies, this is a must for literary cultural centres to keep people investing in paper and ink over screens – something Chinese designers in particular are actively helping set in motion. E Pang Bookstore, a sprawling space in Xi’an’s core development area by Gonverge Interior Design, is one project aimed at hitting that target.

Named for the neighbouring Epang Palace, the 3,500-sq-m bookstore-cum-library is unique in that it offers visitors social and intellectual venture as well as a spatial experience, thanks to its well-defined visual identity. Gonverge Interior Design conceived the space to ‘fill in a blank,’ according to a spokesperson – before its completion, there was no large-scale reading space within 5 km. To further ensure the centre’s success, the design team was briefed to build attractive areas for alternate forms of commerce, like food and drink.

Even still, the bookstore’s primary function is obviously as a public reading space. The main is a bright atrium-cum-reading room, situated in the middle of the store and illuminated by a transparent skylight. This area, specifically for adult readers, is characterized by symmetrical designs, clean textures and centralized circulation. Gonverge Interior Design utilized a refined material palette of wood, metal and stone, complementing the interiors with simple furniture accommodating to pleasure reading or work. In the children’s section, the interior architecture and furnishings adapt to the miniature scale of its users. Overhead, stretch ceilings with integrated lighting emanate a soft glow and the walls and floor are finished with cement. Holographic displays in glass tubes add a futuristic tone to the space, encouraging imagination.

‘Mankind has always been fascinated by the unpredictable future while simultaneously marvelling at classics that have withstood the test of time. We [played on the contrasting sentiments] to connect the present and past in an accessible cultural space.’


Location Fengdong Free Trade Zone, Fengdong New Town, Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, China

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